Step right up, for the greatest show along the midway! Enjoy a leisurely stroll with noted theatre historian Cezar Del Valle as we explore a forgotten aspect of Coney Island history.
The raucous streets and alleyways of Brooklyn’s “Sodom by the Sea” were once crowded with concert saloons, vaudeville houses and early film shows. The Island served as a training ground for a generation of entertainers, where Cary Grant walked on stilts, Harpo Marx made his stage debut, Clara Bow sliced rolls and the six-year-old Buster Keaton brought out the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
In a landmarked building, on Surf Avenue, once home to the Blue Bird Casino and Wonderland Circus Sideshow, Coney Island USA carries on that tradition. To set the stage for our walk we will begin with a visit to their museum.
Please note this is largely a tour of original sites and old photographs. Sad to relate but many of the original buildings are gone (issues of landmarking and preservation are also part of the walk).
Who will enjoy this event? Lovers of Coney Island who want to know more about the fabled resort, those interested in popular forms of entertainment (vaudeville, burlesque, early cinema, sideshows) and anyone curious about the history of New York or Brooklyn.
Coney Island USA
1208 Surf Ave
Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue Station
D N F Q Trains
Theater Historian and Artist
An artist with over 100 exhibitions at galleries, museums and art centers, Cezar Del Valle is also a theatre historian offering series of popular theatre talks and walking tours. He has been described as “legendary” by Lower East Side Preservation Initiative. For Dick Zigun, at Coney Island USA, Del Valle is “one hell of an entertaining speaker.” While Hillsman Wright, executive director of the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation, calls Cezar Del Valle “a distinguished scholar and great friend of historic theatres.” Del Valle is the author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, a three-volume history of borough theatres. The first two volumes chosen 2010 OUTSTANDING BOOK OF THE YEAR by the Theatre Historical Society of America. Final volume published in September 2014. He is currently working on a major update of the first two volumes of the Index for what will be the third and final editions. These will be available in early 2017.