Photo of the Week: Happy Summer!

Astroland Park with Happyface and bottom half of Wonder wheel (panoramic), 2006, 2008.035.1; Ron Meisel photographs, 2008.035; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Astroland Park with Happyface and bottom half of Wonder wheel (panoramic), 2006, 2008.035.1; Ron Meisel photographs, 2008.035; Brooklyn Historical Society.

After a couple weeks of blazing hot sun and melting humidity, it seems appropriate to highlight one of the many photographs of Coney Island in our holdings. Just as there are endless things to look at while strolling down the boardwalk or Surf Avenue, the photograph above provides endless surprises each time I look at it.  Taken as a panorama photograph (with a Hasselblad camera and color negative film), it documents the many things to be experienced in all the recreational parts of Coney Island.  Unfortunately, Astroland closed in 2008 after being a Coney Island mainstay for 46 years.  Perhaps the most famous amusement ride was The Cyclone and thankfully, that is still open to willing participants.

Panoramas are not recent inventions by any means.  A timeline of panoramic photographs indicates the first known panorama to have been made in 1843 using the daguerreotype process.  The technique was improved upon when flexible film was introduced (Eastman House).  It’s common to conflate panoramic photographs with wide-angle photography because of the breadth of the horizontal perspective, but notice the lack of distortion in the corners that is common when a fish-eye lens is used.

This picture was taken by Ron Meisel, a photographer living in Brooklyn who is represented by the Phyllis Stigliano Gallery in Park Slope.  You can see his photographs in our collection here and keep an eye out for future exhibitions of his work at the Stigliano Gallery.  Enjoy the summer everyone – don’t forget your sunscreen.

Interested in seeing more photos from BHS’s collection? Visit our online image gallery, which includes a selection of our images. Interested in seeing even more historic Brooklyn images? Visit our new website here.  To search BHS’s entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections visit BHS’s Othmer Library Wed-Fri, 1:00-5:00 p.m.


About Julie May

I am the Head of Collection Management at Brooklyn Historical Society.
This entry was posted in Brooklyn Past & Present, Library & Archives and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Photo of the Week: Happy Summer!

  1. Sean Kelliher says:

    Thank you for posting this. I enjoy seeing these old photographs in your “photos of the week” column.

    I’m curious – I believe the Hasselblad is a 6×6 format camera. How does someone get a panorama photo from it? Does the photographer “stitch” a number of photos together? Or, does he do something like use a mask over the lens or filmback to modify the dimensions? Thank you.

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