Council member Dominic Recchia Jr. knows what the people want: "Everywhere I go, people want to know about Coney Island."
Mr. Recchia was among a group of politicians, artists, and preservationists Tuesday at the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza, where Nathan Handwerker, the founder of Nathan's hot dogs, was inducted into the Coney Island History Project's Hall of Fame.
Assemblywoman Adele Cohen recalled going to Nathan's in her youth when it cost "10 cents to feed me." The president of Brooklyn, Marty Markowitz, alluded to other amusement parks trying to imitate Coney Island. "You don't have to copy us," he said. "Come to the original." He also spoke of plans to build an amphitheater in Coney Island that will serve as a seasonal concert site.
The evening celebrated the opening of a Coney Island-themed exhibition, which runs at the library through October 1. The show includes Coney Island-inspired artwork by Philomena Marano and Richard Eagan, and photographs by Charles Denson.
Mr. Eagan had once worked on the Coney Island midway as guesser of age and weight. Mr. Denson, author of "Coney Island: Lost and Found" (Ten Speed Press), is executive director of the Coney Island History Project, which records oral history of Coney Island and sponsors educational exhibits and programs. He said the organization is documenting an area of Brooklyn that is alive and constantly evolving. The audience laughed when he said there were teenagers who wrote in "to tell us about rides in the past" — which they had enjoyed when they were six years old.
He spoke of the early visionaries and colorful entrepreneurs who came to Coney Island, many of whom, he said, were immigrants and adventurers who built a world of magical artifice amidst the natural setting of sand and sea.
Mr. Denson talked about prior inductees into the Hall of Fame, which is located behind the bumper car building at Astroland. There was Dr. Martin Couney, who invented the baby incubator that saved thousands of lives. He was outside the medical establishment at the time, and made his clinic into a sideshow exhibit.
At the opening ceremony for the Hall of Fame last year, a number of former babies whom Dr. Couney had saved showed up. They were in their 70s and 80s.
Mr. Denson mentioned other members of the Hall of Fame, including James Hale Strong, a test pilot who designed the Coney Island Parachute Jump. That was a feat, Mr. Denson said, that exemplified beating swords into plowshares.
On hand Tuesday were descendents and relatives of various colorful Coney Island figures. Carol McCullough, the great-granddaughter of the showman George Cornelius Tilyou, who founded Steeplechase Park, came with her 7 1/2- month-old daughter, Nyla. Also on hand was Nathan Handwerker's son, Sol, to whom the official Brooklyn borough historian Ron Schweiger was chatting with after the program. Mr. Schweiger took care in describing the metal pin that was given to him, which once belonged to a former manager at Nathan's. Also seen was a sideshow banner artist, Marie Roberts, whose uncle was a barker named "Professor" Lester Roberts.
Enjoying the event were a Coney Island History Project board member Dan Pisark; "Captain Bob" McCoy, who gives tours of Coney Island each weekend year-round; Gordon Gattsek and Eric Weiss of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club; and the folklorist Steve Zeitlin who has co-written a forthcoming book "Hidden New York" (Rutgers University Press).
Lloyd Handwerker was filming the program. He is working on a documentary about his famous grandfather, Nathan Handwerker. The exhibit noted that his grandfather's rise to success was aided by his having improved efficiency by inventing a roll-slicing machine.
Banners of Coney Island personalities were displayed in the library lobby area as part of the exhibition. Not far away on the same floor is the Coney Island History Project Memory Booth, where people may record their recollections of Coney Island. The Knickerbocker heard Lou Powsner, who came to New York in 1923, being recorded. He later told the Knickerbocker that he once visited the old New York Sun in 1948 to inquire about a journalism job in the sports section.
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The writer Burton Rocks is being considered to write a biography of New York Mets pitcher Billy Wagner, The Knickerbocker has learned. The two were at a party last week at the 40/40 Club for chatwithastar.com, a Web site that Mr. Rocks and businessman, Andrew Goodwin, founded. The site connects fans to their favorite athletes and celebrities.
Stopping by the party was the comedian Freddie Roman, and a principal at Bernstein Investment Research and Management, John Oden, who wrote "White-Collar Boxing: One Man's Journey from the Office to the Ring" (Hatherleigh ), and who may write a fitness book.