11. The Romance Behind Coney Island’s Wonder Wheel

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Coney Island’s iconic Wonder Wheel. Photo by Mike Scully

Invented by Charles Hermann, and built by concessionaire Herman Garms in steel from 1918-1920, Coney Island’s iconic, still-standing Wonder Wheel had its grand opening on Memorial Day in 1920. Upon Garms’s death in 1935, his son Fred took over, and by the 1980s, Fred sought a new buyer for the Wonder Wheel. The romantic side of the story kicks in with Denos D. Vourderis, who owned and operated a kiddie park near the Wheel. He had proposed to his wife Lula in front of the Wonder Wheel back in 1948 and said he’d buy Lula the Wonder Wheel if she married him (though he didn’t since it wasn’t for sale). Because of Vourderis’s dedication to maintaining his kiddie park over the years, Fred Garms sold the Wheel to him for $250,000.