Before Disneyland, Six Flags and Sea World, there was Coney Island. With its long list of pleasures — the beach, the boardwalk, the roller coasters and the hot dogs — this strip of seashore at the foot of Brooklyn, N.Y., has provided affordable fun and amusement for millions of people for more than a century. And one person clearly enchanted by the oasis of fun is renowned photographer Harvey Stein, whose new book, Coney Island 40 Years, is full of colorful characters (such as the photo above) he’s encountered there over the past four decades. Stein spoke to LIFE.com about his collection of striking black-and-white pictures, sharing stories and personal insights into an “iconic American place.”
On October 14, 1912, Roosevelt was campaigning in Milwaukee, Wisconsin when a local saloon-keeper shot him. The bullet lodged in his chest after passing through a jacket pocket containing his steel eyeglass case and a copy of his 50 page speech which had been folded in half. Being an anatomist, Roosevelt concluded that since he wasn’t coughing blood the bullet had not penetrated the chest wall into his lung. He declined immediate treatment and gave his 90 minute speech with blood seeping from the wound into his shirt. “Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot,” Roosevelt said, “but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.”
Oh, and Roosevelt was blind in his left eye, the result of a boxing injury he sustained while in office.