Image: Luna Park
Mary Altaffer  /  AP
People enjoy one of the rides at Luna Park on Saturday — the opening day of Luna Park on Coney Island.
updated 6/1/2010 12:10:56 PM ET 2010-06-01T16:10:56

Brooklyn's famous Coney Island amusement park, home to the historic Cyclone roller coaster and Wonder Wheel, got some new neighbors with the opening of a new park named for an old one: Luna Park.

The 19 new rides at Luna Park will be phased in, and they'll have some famous company: the Cyclone, a wooden coaster built in 1927, and the giant Wonder Wheel, which stands 150 feet (45 meters) high and was built in 1920. Both are New York City landmarks. Nathan's Famous hot dog eatery is a few blocks away.

The new Luna Park is named for a now-defunct park that opened in 1903 and was known as an "Electric Eden," according to Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. In its heyday, it attracted 90,000 visitors a day.

The first Luna Park featured hundreds of thousands of lights — such a spectacle that people started using the phrase, "It's lit up like Luna Park." By 1907, visitors were mailing more than a million postcards a week out of the Coney Island post office.

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Luna Park was destroyed in a 1944 electrical fire. An estimated 750,000 people stood watching the 10-alarm blaze from the Coney Island beach.

The arrival of its namesake, declared City Planning Commissioner Amanda M. Burden, is "a great day for Coney Island fans all over the globe."

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the new park heralds a turnaround following "decades of disinvestment and neglect" that shrank Coney Island's "storied" amusement district to "a shell of its former glory." Slideshow: Luna Park freshens up Coney Island

"This will galvanize the whole area," Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show.

Robert C. Lieber, deputy mayor for economic development, said the "expanded amusement district that will help Coney Island retake its former glory."

Coney Island remains an inexpensive attraction for amusement-park fans, served by several subway lines and located right on the beach and boardwalk.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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