Contrary to popular belief it was not Nathan Handwerker (a Jewish immigrant from Poland who started Nathan’s Famous) that brought the hot dog to Coney Island, but rather Charles Feltman (1841-1910), a German butcher who is accredited with the idea of selling pork sausages on a warm bun, around 1867.
Feltman reportedly sold over 3,000 sausages on a roll during his first year in business, pushing around a wagon to hungry beachgoers. The hot dog sold for 10 cents apiece and enabled Feltman to build an empire with a hotel, restaurants, food stands, and amusements.
All hot dog money.
Nathan Handwerker slept on the floor of Feltman’s kitchen, which is all that remains of Feltman’s legacy, and it is slated to be demolished.
Handwerker’s job was slicing hot dog rolls and delivering the franks to the guys who worked at the grilling stations. He lived on free hot dogs to save his $11 per week salary. At the end of the year, he’d saved $300 and opened a competing stand and sold them for 5 cents a hot dog instead of 10 cents.
That was the beginning of Nathan’s Famous and the demise of Feltman’s, which went out of business in 1952.
The property became Astroland Park, and now all that’s left is the kitchen. It was used as a workshop for the rides, and though it’s in poor condition this was arguably the spot where a legendary hot dog empire was first dreamed up. Nonetheless, it’s among the structures to be torn down on land recently purchased by the city of New York.
This building should really be saved as a museum or listed as a historical monument. A true piece of New York and American history.
Thanks to Amusing the Zillion for the info on this story