Brooklyn Mourns Jerome Albert, a Founder of Astroland

March 19, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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By Raanan Geberer

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

CONEY ISLAND — Brooklyn is mourning Jerome Albert, one of the founders of Astroland, the well-known amusement park that survived the decline of Coney Island but wasn’t able to survive its renaissance.

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The death was announced by the Coney Island History Project. The cause of death was Parkinson’s disease. According to The New York Times, after being diagnosed with the disease, Albert considered retiring but instead turned the business over to his wife, Carol Albert, who operated the park until it closed in 2008.

Jerome Albert, known as Jerry, grew up in Sea Gate and opened Astroland with his father Dewey in 1964, at a time when the boardwalk area was already starting to decline. It was built on the site of Feltman’s restaurant, where the hot dog was invented, according to legend.

The park was constructed with the theme of space exploration, which was popular at the time, and its original slogan was “A Journey Into the 21st Century.” Among its original rides were the Mercury Capsule Sky Ride and the Moon Rocket.

Astroland’s symbol was the Astroland Rocket, which, like many of Astroland’s rides, survived the park itself and now is located in the amusement area.

Borough President Marty Markowitz commented, “Jerome and his father Dewey believed that a large city like New York needed an accessible, affordable amusement attraction and they invested in Coney Island during its darkest days and saw its potential for rebirth long before the government did.

“After Dewey’s death, Jerome and his wife Carol — truly a Brooklyn amusement park power couple—carried on the family legacy, and their dedication has paved the way for the bright future of Coney Island we are seeing today.”

Dick Zigun, the founder of Coney Island USA, which sponsors Sideshows by the Seashore and the annual Mermaid Parade, said, “It was my personal honor to work for Jerry Albert for four years handling all public relations and special events at Astroland (1997-2000 ) in a joint venture with Astroland and CIUSA known as: `Arts and Acts At Astroland.’

“Under Jerry Albert’s leadership during the difficult years at Coney Island, I loved to brag to the press that Astroland maintained standards at Coney Island as it was the place with no graffitti, no burned-out light bulbs and not one crack in its sidewalks or paved midway. He is and will forever remain a legend among the great historical figures in Coney Island’s colorful history.”

Rick Russo, acting president of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, said of Astroland, “It was an iconic Coney Island attraction. Originally, it had a space theme, but leader, many of its rides were like carnival rides, so it became a happy medium, a blend of the old and new.” Because Astroland lasted for more than 40 years, Russo added, it became a place that people could return over and over again.”

In late 2006, the Albert family sold the park for $30 million to Thor Equities, which planned to redevelop much of the Coney Island area. Under the agreement, the Alberts continued to operate both Astroland and the Cyclone roller coaster. After difficulties in negotiations between the two parties in 2008, Carol Albert announced she was closing Astroland.

Luna Park, which also purchased the Cyclone, currently operates on the site of Astroland.

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