A Piece of History Returns to Coney Island

September 5, 2009

Divers Rescue Bell

*Sep 03 - 00:05*

By Simone Weichselbaum
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Friday, September 4th 2009

Divers pulled the 500-pound artifact from the murky waters off Coney Island Thursday 98 years after it toppled into the Atlantic.

The dark green clapper, made in 1895, fell into the ocean about 300 feet from shore during a 1911 fire that ruined the old Dreamland Park and the 1,200 foot pier that held the bell.

The 3-foot-tall bell used to greet people arriving by steamboat to see the attractions.

Gene Ritter, 50, whose team of “cultural research” divers found the bell in November in 25 feet of water, said he had been searching for it since 1989 after reading about it in history books.

“This is history being made,” said a sopping wet Ritter after his team lifted the bell onto the pier of Gateway Marina in Mill Basin, Brooklyn.
“It is going to the history project, under the Cyclone.”

The curious can see the bell starting Saturday, he said.

Ritter asked White Cap Marine Rescue Services to help him tow the bell to shore. It was strapped to ropes and an air bag so it would be buoyant enough to glide across the water.

“It is a piece of history, and I live in Brooklyn,” said White Cap’s Jack Schachner, 61.

A crowd of gawkers on Gateway’s pier cheered as a crane lifted the bell from the water.

“Ring the bell,” chanted Tom Cannon, 57. “This sounded when people used to come off the ferry. Welcome back to Brooklyn.”

Additional Photos: NYPost

bell and pier

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