Some post-Sandy nerves likely contributed to the overabundance of precaution surrounding the swaying tower, which has always had some give to it, precisely in order to withstand high winds.
Coney Island‘s famous Cyclone and Wonder Wheel were closed Wednesday, the day before one of the amusement park’s busiest days, while engineers inspected a 275-foot-tall observation tower that swayed in the wind.
After the park closed hours early Tuesday evening because of a call about the Astrotower’s movement, the initial assessments were that the unused Astrotower was stable, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Wednesday.
Some attractions, including the Coney Island Raceway and the B&B Carousel, reopened around noon.
“But we’re keeping the area right near the tower closed until we’re certain,” it’s safe, Bloomberg said.
“We want to make sure that Coney’s open to everybody, but safety is, obviously, everybody’s first priority, so we will have an abundance of caution, but we are optimistic,” he added.
The fire department received a call Tuesday afternoon that the tower was swaying, and the park was evacuated and closed hours early as a precaution. The nearly 50-year-old tower, which has been closed since 2010, continued to shift in the breeze even Wednesday.
The structure was built to give somewhat in the wind to withstand storms — such as Superstorm Sandy last year — and local residents and merchants are accustomed to seeing the structure sway.
“Every time the wind blows, I see it sway,” said Billy Burke, manager of Paul’s Daughter, a hot dog shop on boardwalk.
But some said Tuesday’s movement was more pronounced than usual.
“It’s the first time I saw it swinging like that, back and forth. I was like, ‘Oh, my God,'” said Tracy Mittleman, 34, who has lived across the street her entire life.
Nicole Purmal, the marketing manager at the amusement park, called Luna Park, said Wednesday morning that the structure “definitely has a measure of movement about her,” but she suggested seeing it as part of the park’s charm.
“We hope it gives people a reason to come down to Coney Island to see that she swings and she sways,” Purmal said.
The Astrotower was installed in 1964 and has not been in use since 2010. It once offered visitors 360-degree views of the Atlantic Ocean and Brooklyn. It sits across the street from the Cyclone roller coaster.
The Fourth of July hot dog-eating contest nearby at Nathan’s will not be affected. Nathan’s was open Wednesday.
“The rest of Coney is open and ready for action, including the beach, the boardwalk, the aquarium, and, of course, Nathan’s is serving its famous wares to chowhounds from around the world,” Bloomberg said. “And we expect thousands of people to head out to Coney Island for the biggest dog show in the world.”
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Photo credit: July 4th fireworks. AP Photo