Cradle of Aviation Museum brings arcades back to life

By Cameron Albert and Matt Cataruzolo

Dozens of video game lovers of all ages came together at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City on Monday to experience the evolution of arcade gaming with their own two hands.

The Arcade Age exhibit featured 70 different games including Michael Jackson’s “Moonwalker” or “Tempest” along with old-school pinball machines. Classic games such as “Pac-Man,” “Donkey Kong,” “Galaga,” and “Street Fighter” were also among the popular choices. 

“My kids play modern games on like the Nintendo Switch,” Trisha Forbes, one of the attendees said. “They really like Super Smash Bros so I’ve compared it to Street Fighter which they’ve enjoyed.” 


Wireless controllers were replaced by just a joystick and two buttons. There were no Xboxs, PlayStations or Nintendo Switches in sight. For once, parents were the ones answering questions on how to work technology.

“There was a scenario where a Mom came in and she beat her son at a game and the kid got so upset because he had never been beaten by his mom before,” Special Events crewmember Sean Kretschmer said. 

In addition to the machines, the Arcade Age exhibit showcased the life of arcade gaming as decades went on. Panels throughout the exhibit explained how arcade-style gaming was pioneered in the 1960’s, launched in the 70’s, thrived in the 80’s and eventually declined in the 90’s. 

“It is extremely important to learn the history of gaming because it is such a massive industry within present day America and it is a massive force within our collective popular culture,” Director of Special Events, Seamus Keane said. “A lot of our common tech has come out of the arcade and people just don’t realize that.”

The Cradle of Aviation Museum hosted a similar exhibit in 2015 but with over 200 tickets sold just two days into this version, they realized that there’s a demand for experiences like this on Long Island.   

“Retro gaming is a hot commodity,” Director of Special Events, Seamus Keane said. “Many of the people who come to the exhibit for the first time are blown away by the collection and transported back to their childhood and it’s wonderful to see them bringing in their own children to show the younger generation where video gaming started.”

The Arcade Age Exhibit at the Cradle of Aviation Museum not only gave attendees an afternoon of fun, but provided an opportunity for those of different generations to bond through their love of gaming.

About Cameron Albert 4 Articles
I am a junior journalism major with a minor in media arts at Stony Brook University. I have worked with on-campus news organizations and completed an internship with the New York Red Bulls in Fall 2019.