We're strolling down the promenade towards one of the world's oldest and most fearsome seaside fairground attractions. Surprisingly, this is not Blackpool pleasure beach, but New York, the Big Apple, known for sex, shopping and sipping Manhattans. Not building sandcastles.
'It never ceases to freak the **** out of me' says proud Brooklynite Tony Muia, pointing his tattooed arm towards the 86ft monster in front of us. The ‘Cyclone', shrieks with a lack of oil as it's chintzy carriages clatter past.
Frighteningly, Jerry Mendito, who has manned the ride for decades, has not once ridden this beachside beast.
It's a rickety ride to the top, the 82-year-old wooden slats wildly rattling. I take in the pleasant gold sand, cloudless blue sky and a couple of swooping gulls. The air is sweet with candyfloss and corn dogs. It's a bit like a nice version of Western Super Mare, I muse.
And then we drop, and it's so steep it feels more than vertical. I am definitely going to fall out on the next corner, I internally scream. It's actually 60 degrees, but what's a bit of trigonometry between friends.
Back on ground level is a man so besotted with the Cylcone, he has it tattooed on his arm. Perhaps this fanatical love that explains why Walt Disney was so keen to ‘borrow' the look and feel of the place and take it back to his little project in Florida. What with the burlesque nights, freak show and mermaid parade (which is more about scanty swimwear than scales) – one can easily see where the cultish love of the place comes from.
A red beacon twinkles high above the sandy beach and boardwalk. The very same that The Drifters named their famed love song after. ‘That's the Eiffel Tower of Brooklyn,' says Tony. ‘It was a fairground attraction until 1968, we'd all love seeing it operate again, but it was terrifying enough when it was operating and in good shape.'
Back in its heyday in the 1930s, New York's first beach resort was teeming – a hive of ladies in swimwear, sword swallowers, fire-eaters and kids dipping their toes into the chilly Atlantic.
Several landmarks are still with us – including the sign for a decidedly un PC game entitled Shoot The Freak, but Spring 2009 finds it quiet and sleepy, Brooklyn feeling like Manhattan's more laid back brother. And thankfully there are no signs of the Warriors anywhere among the pastel colours, Beer Island, selected clam bars and a huge count down to Nathan's hot dog eating contest.
Zipping back to Manhattan on a 50-minute subway ride, it turns out I'm not the only one who fancies a cocktail on the roof.
Up on the roof'Roof top bars are like spas now, everyone has to have one,' says Steven Greenberg, the creator of 230 Fifth Roof Terrace & Garden, New York's first sky-high drinking establishment. 'With 360 degree views and glorious sunshine, it's not surprising over 3000 beers were knocked back here last summer.'
Greenberg also masterminded the younger, sleeker Gansevoort hotel, in the glossy Meat-Packing District where we're staying. By day a neat swimming spot with stunning views of the city, and by night a thumping bar where women dress to impress and a drinks are a served at a one bottle minimum.
But suave members club, Soho house, is the granddaddy of rooftop bars. Reaching the summit in a darkened lift, one wanders out into what could accurately be likened to heaven. Cream beds line the light blue pool, the sun setting pink and the punters looking like they've stepped off the cover of Vogue.
Pooled rooftops are popping up all over New York and make the perfect respite for working urban folk, but for those who'd rather their beach wasn't up 30 flights of stairs, Water Taxi Beach on Long Island ticks several ground level sun-seeking boxes.
Urban beaches'I enjoy the lighter side of life,' says its proprietor Tom Fox, a self-proclaimed green guerilla. 'If you make things fun, the world is a better place'.
By Emily Payne
"With a larger total bearing ability, we can set up a bigger and more elaborate model of a structure to put on the vibrators," civil and structural engineering professor Li Jianzhong was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
It will take two years to complete the construction of the Tongji centre.
Last year's 8.0-magnitude Sichuan earthquake left nearly 87,000 dead or missing.
At least 5,335 students were killed or went missing when their classrooms crumbled on them.
Nearby structures stood firm, and devastated parents have blamed local cadres for pocketing construction money and building low-quality schools.
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