Photos of Coney Island during the 1970s were filed away by the photographer in 1980 and only recently unearthed for public exhibition. The 25 photographs include images of the people – many of them homeless – places, concessions and buildings that have been either been displaced or razed in the name of urban renewal.
These photographs conjure up the final years when Coney Island’s concessions and amusements, as well as entertainment centers like Steeplechase and the original Luna Park drew thousands from Memorial Day to Labor Day and beyond.
On September 9, 2017, the Garibaldi-Meucci Art Museum on Staten Island will host an exhibition of 25 never-seen black and white photographs taken by photographer-writer Michael Cala of Coney Island taken between 1970 and 1980.
The photographer, who grew up in its environs, spent whatever time he could muster, starting in college, to visit Coney and photograph the people and places that are now mere memories as urban renewal has set in and many of the concessions ands buildings are now mere memories.
Some have called Coney Island’s final golden years in the mid-1900s as, "an oasis in a decade of decay.” This portfolio of photographs is an evocative, perhaps even poetic, view of this iconic amusement locale, photographed during a calamitous 10-year period when New York City was crumbling socially, financially, and physically, and crime was rampant.
The exhibition opens on September 9, 2017, at the Garibaldi Meucci Museum, located at 420 Tompkins Avenue, Staten Island, New York, 10305, not far from the Staten Island Ferry and roughly two blocks from Bay Street. There will be a reception at the exhibition that begins at 3 PM that day.
These photographs are part of a photo-and-text package highlighting the twilight years of Coney Island as it began its decline thanks in large measure to plans for urban renewal that, thus far, have not materialized
This exhibition is a call to memory for those who remember Coney in its heyday.
The photographer, Michael Cala, an award winning writer-photographer, comments, “I promise you will see 25 images that recall your childhood if you were a fan of Coney Island.”
This exhibition is made possible (in part) by a DCA Premier Grant from Staten Island Arts, with public funding from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.