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USA Pavilion, Milan Expo 2015

Dignitaries on ‘Boardwalk’ made from Coney Island Boardwalk wood during May 1st opening ceremony of USA Pavilion, Milan Expo 2015. Photo via USA Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015 Facebook

One day in the not too distant future, the wooden Coney Island Boardwalk may exist only in recycled form, far away from the People’s Playground, in venues frequented mostly by the privileged classes. The May 1st opening of the Milan Expo provides a window into that future. The Expo’s $60 million USA Pavilion boasts a 300-foot walkway said to be made of repurposed ipe wood from the Coney Island Boardwalk.

“The middle floor is a boardwalk, boardwalks have historically been avenues of food and community, and fun too!,” writes Dorothy Cann Hamilton, the President of the Friends of USA Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015. “We were able to purchase the actual Coney Island boardwalk after Hurricane Sandy.”

Milan Expo USA Pavilion Rendering

Architects rendering of Milan Expo’s USA Pavilion featuring a walkway of Coney Island Boardwalk wood. The $60 million pavilion project was privately funded by the James Beard Foundation, International Culinary Center and the American Chamber of Commerce in Italy. Biber Architects, New York

The project’s architect James Biber of Biber Architects, a New York City-based architecture firm, said in an interview on the Pavilion’s website that “Americans’ fascination with the road inspired our boardwalk concept, which is really the backbone of the whole experience. Visitors will take a trip through the USA Pavilion – up the boardwalk and back down – and constantly be on the move.”

Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, wooden sections of the Brighton Beach end of the Boardwalk are being torn up to be replaced with a walkway made of recycled plastic lumber and a 10-foot wide concrete “carriage lane” for so-called “emergency vehicles.” The $10 million pilot project is seen as the City’s plan for the future of the entire boardwalk, except for a few blocks in the amusement district that will continue to be made of ipe wood.

And Coney Island’s heroic City Councilman Mark Treyger is trying to persuade the City’s Landmarks Commission that the Boardwalk should be declared a Scenic Landmark despite a previous rebuff.

Boardwalk

Boardwalk Reconstruction in Brighton Beach, where a new plastic and concrete ‘boardwalk’ is set for completion in May 2016. Photo by Lonnie Luchnick via Friends of the Boardwalk Facebook

The Parks Department’s page about the Coney Island Boardwalk Reconstruction at Brighton Beach says “Replacing this portion of the boardwalk (Coney Island Avenue to Brighton 15th Street) using hardwoods could destroy some 6,000 acres of tropical rainforest, while 45,200 acres would be destroyed to reconstruct the entire boardwalk.” But instead of opting for a treated wood such as Kebony, which has been used at Delaware’s Bethany Beach Boardwalk (Parks claims Kebony is “only available in Europe”), or a wood over concrete substructure like Ocean City, Maryland, the City went for the cheapest and least aesthetically pleasing –a concrete and plastic surface.

Boardwalk reconstruction

Parks Dept rendering of boardwalk reconstruction underway in Brighton Beach. a 10-foot-wide concrete carriage lane will be included in the 50-foot-wide boardwalk.

The Milan Expo project caught our eye a few months ago via a dramatically titled news story “Sandy-ravaged Coney Island boardwalk turned into showpiece.” Coney Island Boardwalk, the brand, commands attention, and rescuing discarded boards to make into something new and beautiful is commendable. But in fact, the Coney Island Boardwalk was NOT ravaged by Sandy but survived intact, though the same can’t be said for the neighborhood or Steeplechase Pier.

Berms built on the beach protected the boardwalk, which was inundated with sand that was shoveled into tidy piles and returned to the beach. We’re not sure who started the ravaged boardwalk myth but it enables Parks’ claim that plastic lumber was more resilient than wood during Sandy, a fact disputed by actual residents of the neighborhood. The producers of luxury products made from Coney boardwalk wood, including such trinkets as a $195 knife with an ipe handle, unwittingly perpetrate the myth in their blurbs.

Boardwalk after Sandy

Coney Island Boardwalk a few days after Sandy. November 5, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita

In fact, the Parks Dept. has been giving away and/or selling the wood for several years in the course of redoing sections of the boardwalk. The wood was torn up before the storm so that a new concrete surface could go down at Sea Gate and Brighton. Some boards are removed during regular maintenance and replaced with new ipe. There will be plenty more wood to go around now that they’re tearing up the boards in Brighton in a pilot project that was infamously approved by the Public Design Commission despite popular opposition.

What the City of New York doesn’t want you to know, but anyone who lives or works along the boardwalk can tell you, is that the 2.51 mile pedestrian walkway is now routinely used as a roadway by Parks Department and NYPD vehicles, not just for emergencies. It is this everyday use which causes enormous wear and tear to the boards, which frequently pop up while whole sections cave in and have to be replaced.

Truck on Coney Island Boardwalk

The City of New York’s routine use of trucks and cars on the Coney Island Boardwalk causes wear and tear on the boards. The Parks Dept is starting to build a 10-foot wide concrete ‘carriage lane’ in Brighton Beach. Photo © Anonymouse

In June of 2012, months before Sandy, when the Barnes Foundation’s new museum opened with flooring made of Coney Island Boardwalk wood, an article in the NY Times explained how it got there: “The parks department says it tries to reuse what it can but then allows contractors to sell, discard or give away the rest. (The city makes no money from it.) That is how an architectural salvage company in Philadelphia came to haul away 20 trailer loads of Coney Island wood in 2010.”

While repurposing discarded lumber is eco-friendly and gives a building a LEEDS rating, there’s something incongruous about sending this heavy wood more than 4,000 miles to Italy for an expo trumpeting sustainability. “Indoor and outdoor decking made of salvaged Coney Island boardwalk lumber will eventually be re cycled again,” according to the US Pavilion’s Sustainability Fact Sheet. Well, good, so Europeans can enjoy decks made from Coney boardwalk wood too. Or it will be shipped 4,000 miles back home.

Save the Boardwalk Rally

Sign at rally to save boardwalk from becoming concrete: This is SUPPOSED to be the DE BLASIO ADMINISTRATION not BLOOMBERG. January 18, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

The People’s Playground and the people of New York have been getting buncoed. As one of the commenters said in the NY Times story from 2012: “So the wood, which was payed [sic] for with tax payer dollars, is given away for free and then sold and used in hi end furniture, restaurants and museums? These people and places with no real association to Coney Island now claim some connection to the fabled boardwalk. Because they bought the wood that I helped pay for that the city gave away.”

USA Pavilion at Milan Expo

Ambassadors stand on ‘Boardwalk’ made from Coney Island Boardwalk wood during May 1st opening ceremony of USA Pavilion, Milan Expo 2015. Photo via USA Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015 Facebook

Related posts on ATZ…

January 19, 2015: An Historic First As Elected Officials Join Community’s Fight to Save Coney Island Boardwalk

March 22, 2012: The Coney Island-Brighton Beach Concretewalk Blues

March 9, 2012: The 10 People Who Will Decide the Fate of Coney Island Boardwalk

December 27, 2010: Photo of the Day: First Snow on Coney Island Boardwalk

Read Full Post »

Wilensky Hardware

Wilensky Hardware at 2126 Mermaid Avenue in Coney Island, a third-generation family business founded in 1920. October 18, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

This year in Coney Island, Friscia Pharmacy and Wilensky Hardware on Mermaid Avenue and the landmark Wonder Wheel are marking their 95th anniversaries. All three first opened for business in 1920. That’s a remarkable feat of longevity in a City where every day we hear about another small business being pushed out by skyrocketing rent, the influx of chains or rampant redevelopment. According to blogger Jeremiah Moss of Vanishing New York, who recently launched the #SaveNYC campaign to help Mom & Pops, if you add up all the years in business represented, New York City lost 6,926 years of its history in the dozen years from 2001 to 2013.

What do Coney Island’s 95-year-old Mom & Pops have in common? One is still owned by its founding family while the other two were sold to new owners decades ago. All “own the premises,” as Carnegie Deli founder Milton Parker famously recommended in his 2005 memoir. Nowadays, that advice has almost become a prerequisite for survival in New York City.

Wilensky Hardware at 2126 Mermaid Avenue has been owned and operated by three generations of the Wilensky family. “It was started by my wife’s grandfather Samuel Wilensky in 1920,” says Steve Feinstein. Asked if he had any unusual and obsolete pieces of hardware that he could show us, he said the store used to supply Steeplechase Park with bolts up to 1″ x 36″. Unfortunately, everything in the store, including the old stock, was ruined by Hurricane Sandy.

Friscia Pharmacy

Friscia Pharmacy, at 1505 Mermaid Avenue in Coney Island. March 2, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Down the block at 1505 Mermaid Avenue is Friscia Pharmacy, “The Oldest in Coney Island,” as a sign at its entrance proudly proclaims. The banner on the side of the building celebrating the store’s 94th anniversary caught our eye last year and inspired this story. Pharmacist Anthony Morano tells us he has been there 42 years. His partner Frank Giordano retired in 2014 after five decades of service to the community.

It was Giordano who bought the pharmacy from Anthony Friscia in 1960. While we were in the store, business was brisk and an old-timer told ATZ that there had been another owner before Friscia. A druggists directory from 1921 reveals that his name was S. Gentile. Giordano says the apothecary jars they once used to make ointments, as well as measuring scales and other antique items were destroyed when the pharmacy was flooded by Sandy and had to be rebuilt.

Friscia Pharmacy

Friscia Pharmacy, “The Oldest in Coney Island.” March 2, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

The Wonder Wheel was built by the Eccentric Ferris Wheel Company in 1920 and designated an official New York City landmark in 1989. Today it is owned and operated by the second and third generations of the Vourderis family. The family patriarch, for whom “Denos D. Vourderis Place” (West 12th Street between the Boardwalk and the Bowery) is named, bought the Wheel 32 years ago this June.

A popular spot for engagement photos, the Wheel has a very romantic history: When Denos D. Vourderis was a hot dog vendor in the 1940s, he promised his sweetheart Lula that he would buy the Wonder Wheel for her as a wedding present if she would marry him. She said yes and he was able to buy the Wheel in 1983 when it was offered for sale by Fred Garms, whose father Herman was its first owner-operator. The Vourderis family restored the Wheel and made it the centerpiece of Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park.

“It takes a lifetime of devotion, hard work, and dedication to preserve this wonderful landmark attraction,” co-owner Steve Vourderis told Amusement Today on the 90th anniversary of the Wheel. “We have a responsibility to ourselves, our family and most of all to dad to make sure its legacy lives on. It also helps to love what you do.”

Deno's Wonder Wheel Park

Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Coney Island. August 9, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

Turning 95 is a milestone but this trio of businesses have neighbors who have been around even longer. The original Nathan’s Famous, which will celebrate its centennial in 2016, is the City’s oldest hot dog stand and holds the City’s oldest beer license. Across Surf Avenue on West 15th Street is the 108-year-old Gargiulo’s Restaurant. Founded by Gus Gargiulo and owned by the Russo brothers since 1965, it serves classic Neapolitan cuisine and hosts special events from dinner dances and weddings to the annual Alliance for Coney Ialand Gala.

Two slightly younger neighbors are in their 80’s: The famed Totonno’s Pizzeria on Neptune Avenue since 1924 is on every list of The Ten Best Pizzas in New York City. The world-famous Cyclone Roller Coaster was built in 1927 by the Rosenthal brothers, saved from demolition by Astroland Park’s Dewey Albert in 1975 and is now operated by Luna Park.

For more info on Vanishing New York’s #SaveNYC, a crowd-sourcing campaign that aims to protect small businesses by passing long-stalled legislation in the City Council and starting a Cultural Landmarks Program, visit the website or join the Facebook group.

Gargiulo's Restaurant

Gargiulo’s Restaurant on West 15th Street in Coney Island. March 2, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

UPDATE March 11, 2015:

Thanks to photographer Lisanne Anderson for sending us her lovely photos of Friscia Pharmacy’s storefront taken five years ago, when they were celebrating their 90th anniversary. Note the neon signs!

Friscia Pharmacy

Friscia Pharmacy, on their 90th anniversary. Photo © Lisanne Anderson

Friscia Pharmacy

Prescriptions Sign at Friscia Pharmacy, on their 90th anniversary in 2010. Photo © Lisanne Anderson

Related posts on ATZ…

January 20, 2015: Coney Island 2015: Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park Adds Scrambler, ‘Twist & Shout’ Drop Tower

November 18, 2014: ATZ’s Guide to Coney Island’s Honorary Walks and Places

March 5, 2013: Coney Island’s Mermaid Avenue Four Months After Sandy

September 4, 2012: Exclusive: McCullough’s Kiddie Park Closing After 50 Years in Coney Island

Read Full Post »

Schweikerts Walk

The sign for Schweikerts Walk, an alley adjacent to Nathan’s, had vanished from its bracket. November 16, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

What’s missing from the above photo of Nathan’s taken last November? The street sign for Schweikerts Walk, the alley where Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest was originally held. In the late ’90s, either 1997 or 1998, the contest moved to Stillwell Avenue, Nathan’s spokesman George Shea tells ATZ. Happily, a brand-new street sign was spotted at this historic site on Saturday, as you can see in the photo below by Magicalthemeparks.

ATZ noted the missing sign while researching ATZ’s Guide to Coney Island’s Honorary Walks and Places (November 18, 2014), which includes stops at Milton Berger Place, Jones Walk and Granville T Woods Way. We reported it the next day via the City’s Street Sign Defect Complaint page for dangling, damaged or missing signs. The response time is said to be 30 days. On January 29, we finally received an email saying “the Department of Transportation has inspected the condition you reported and a repair order has been issued for the signs to be manufactured and replaced.” And here we are at Schweikerts Walk, which was named after Philip Schweikert, a local bottler whose mineral water bottles are highly collectible today.

Schweikerts Walk

Schweikerts Walk Sign Replaced by DOT. February 7, 2015. Photo © Magicalthemeparks

No word yet from D.O.T. on two other signs missing from Coney Island for which we also filed reports: Henderson Walk and the Dewey Albert Place sign at the Boardwalk. In June 1997, 10th Street between Surf Avenue and the Boardwalk was named Dewey Albert Place in recognition of the work and life of the founder of Astroland and in celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the Cyclone Roller Coaster. The sign on Surf Avenue is intact but construction underway at 10th Street and the Boardwalk may impede the replacement of the second sign.

Henderson Walk seems to be out of luck because there’s no longer a street pole for the sign. When Thor Equities put in a new sidewalk on Surf Avenue in 2012, the street pole was removed as well as two 119-year-old trolley utility poles. The former Henderson Walk is fenced off by Thor and used as a parking lot. As far as the City is concerned, has Henderson Walk ceased to officially exist? The Kensington Walk sign remains on Surf Avenue, though the Walk itself is no more.

Related posts on ATZ…

November 18, 2014: ATZ’s Guide to Coney Island’s Honorary Walks and Places

April 4, 2012: Photo of the Day: Granville T. Woods Memorial Trolley Pole

February 21, 2012: Thor Destroys 119-Year-Old Relics of Coney Trolley History

January 19, 2010: Nathan Slept Here! Coney Island’s Feltman’s Kitchen Set for Demolition

Read Full Post »

Astroland sign from Neptune's Flume

Astroland sign from Neptune’s Flume. January 31, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita

This set of photos was taken five years ago– January 31, 2009–on Astroland’s very last day. It was as bitter cold as it is today. In the months after the park closed in September 2008, the rides and games were dismantled and trucked away. According to the terms of Astroland’s lease extension with Thor Equities, the property had to vacated by February 1st. Amusing the Zillion did not debut until April 2009, but we posted these pix along with our thoughts on flickr:

I expected my Jan 28th visit to Astroland to be my last visit (see set). But I had some business in the area so I stopped by Astroland on Jan 31. By then there wasn’t much left and I didn’t have the heart to take more than a half dozen or so photos. Jan 31 was Astroland’s very last day, the day the lease expired and the property had to be vacated.

On Feb 1, 2009, the Astroland property became the former site of Astroland Park. Since then I refer to it as Thorland after Thor Equities. Others call it Sittville or Sittland East after Thor CEO Joe Sitt. The predatory real estate speculator who owns the 3-acre site is pressuring the city to allow for time-share high rises and shopping mall style retail. Astroland, and now the Boardwalk businesses threatened by huge Thor Space for Lease signs, are pawns or hostages in Thor’s high stakes game with the City. The City’s controversial rezoning of the C-7 amusement district is currently underway.

Abandoned old arcade machines

Abandoned old arcade machines on last day of Astroland. January 31, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita

Among the items that remained and were about to be thrown into a dumpster were these broken old arcade machines. Boxing machines manufactured by Zamperla! Ironically, the parks division of Zamperla would build Luna Park on the former Astroland site in 2010, after this lot and other boardwalk property was bought by the City from Thor Equities for $95.6 million.

Astroland's American flag

Rescuing Astroland’s American flag – where will she wave? January 31, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita

Jeff rescues Astroland’s American flag, which flew from the Astrotower, from soon to be Thorland. Astroland’s signs and rides are safe in storage. NOT sold to Australia or anywhere else, not yet! Perhaps the reconfigured “Astroland,” signs and all, will be able to return to a new location or its old location (if Sitt sells to the city) in Coney Island? That would be a “long shot” (Astroland owner’s words in the press). But I don’t think we should give up hope completely if the owner still has hope. Some of Astroland’s historic signs were rescued today by the Coney Island History Project.

Astroland signage

Rescuing signage from Astroland’s water flume. January 21, 2009

Home of the hot dog? This building has been used as a workshop for the last forty-some years. Astroland workers swept up for the last time on Jan 31, 2009 before vacating the property. I took these photos for my friend “Coney Islander.” who says the tiles are not only Coney Island history, but American history too. He wanted a tile as a keepsake, but we couldn’t find a loose one.

tile floor in the old Feltman's Kitchen

Home of the hot dog? The tile floor in the old Feltman’s Kitchen Bldg was swept on Astroland’s last day. January 31, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita

Of course “the first hot dog” was invented when Feltman was pushing a pie wagon in the 1860s. But the building is all that remains of Feltman’s empire in Coney Island. The floor definitely has character. It has a story to tell. We just have to figure out what it is. Sometimes if the true story isn’t known, an apochryphal one fills the vacuum. The floor looks so old it’s easy to imagine the original hot dog falling on it. It may be doubtful as history goes, but captures the imagination.

The story unfolded a year later, when the building was being demolished to make way for Luna Park: Nathan Slept Here! Coney Island’s Feltman’s Kitchen Set for Demolition, (ATZ, January 19, 2010)

Tile floor in Feltman's Kitchen, Coney Island

Tile floor swept clean in historic Feltman’s kitchen on Astroland property. January 31, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita

Related posts on ATZ…

July 17, 2013: Astroland Rides Find Homes in Brooklyn, Costa Rica and Australia

March 16, 2012: Rest in Peace: Jerry Albert, Co-Founder of Coney Island’s Astroland Park

December 16, 2010: Blast from the Past: LFO’s Summer Girls Music Video

May 21, 2009: Astroland Closed But Your Kid Can Still Ride the USS Astroland This Summer!

Read Full Post »

Public Design Commission Hearing

Public Testimony at the Public Design Commission Hearing on the Coney Island Boardwalk, March 12, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

If you’re in ATZ’s address book, chances are you received the following email from us yesterday or today. Please copy it and share it widely. You can help save the Boardwalk for future gens by signing the petition!

Dear Friends,

City Council members Mark Treyger and Chaim Deutsch, whose districts include the Coney Island-Brighton Beach Boardwalk, have just launched a public petition calling for the Landmarks Preservation Commission to designate the boardwalk a “Scenic Landmark.” Please help their efforts by signing this petition at Change.org and sharing with your friends. It could be our last chance to stop the Boardwalk from becoming the Concretewalk.

If you do not wish your name to appear publicly simply uncheck the box beneath the red “Sign” tab before you click it.

Link to petition: https://www.change.org/p/nyc-landmarks-preservation-commission-designate-historic-riegelmann-boardwalk-as-scenic-landmark

Boardwalk under construction

Children Walking on Boardwalk Under Construction, November 29, 1922. Photo by E.E. Rutter via NYC Dept of Records, Municipal Archives

“There is no question that the historic Riegelmann Boardwalk is one of the most iconic and beloved structures in our entire city and clearly merits this designation,” said Councilman Treyger. “I have already heard from dozens of New Yorkers who are shocked this isn’t already the case and wanted to share their personal stories of what the boardwalk means to them and their families. This is an important piece of New York City history and we must act now before it is drastically changed and lost forever. I am asking anyone who has ever visited the Riegelmann Boardwalk or cares about preserving our history to join our effort.”

“The Coney Island Boardwalk is a Brooklyn icon that possesses significant value, attracting visitors since 1923. In an effort to prevent any compromise of the historic design, I urge the Landmark Preservation Commission to grant landmark status to the boardwalk,” said Councilman Deutsch.

Boardwalk renovation 1934

The Boardwalk opened in 1923 and was already undergoing renovation in 1934: Group of men ripping up old planking on Coney Island boardwalk near Half Moon Hotel. Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Collection

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, who represents New York’s 8th congressional district in Brooklyn and Queens, and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams also spoke in support of the designation.

“The famed Coney Island Boardwalk has been an important part of the social, cultural and economic fabric of our City for generations. The effort by Councilman Treyger to secure scenic landmark designation for the boardwalk will help preserve this Brooklyn icon for future New Yorkers to enjoy and experience, and I look forward to working with him to make it a reality,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries.

“The Riegelmann Boardwalk is imprinted with over 90 years of history, helping to establish Coney Island as America’s playground,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who is co-sponsoring a New Year’s Eve celebration including an LED light show and fireworks, at Coney’s Parachute Jump, which he plans to make an annual tradition.

“Millions of visitors have made the pilgrimage to southern Brooklyn, and we want to see millions more enjoy its unique, iconic character in the decades to come,” said the Borough President. “I support a scenic landmark designation for the Riegelmann Boardwalk because I believe it is in the best interest of Brooklyn’s cultural and economic well-being. I look forward to working with my elected colleagues and local stakeholders to advance this proposal.”

Coney Island Boardwalk

Section of Boardwalk in amusement area under repair, Coney Island. March 13, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

During the Council members first year in office they listened to constituents complaints about the already conpleted concrete sections of the boardwalk and tried to get the City to agree to a moratorium until further environmental studies could be done. However, Daniel Zarrilli, head of the Office of Recovery and Resiliency, a holdover from the Bloomberg administration, told the City Council in June: “The use of concrete in boardwalks is not going to change at this point, is a sound decision and that stands,” according to the New York Daily News.

Coney Island Boardwalk

Section of Coney Island Concretewalk at West 36th Street near Sea Gate. June 22, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The petition will be submitted to the Mayor’s office and the LPC as part of the councilmen’s argument for designating the 2.7-mile boardwalk along the Brighton Beach and Coney Island waterfront as a Scenic Landmark. Among New York City’s official Scenic Landmarks are Central Park, Fort Tryon Park, Prospect Park, Eastern Parkway and Ocean Parkway.

“For nearly a century, Coney Island’s wooden boardwalk has provided the public with a rustic observation platform, a cool, soft, raised promenade that captures ocean breezes and affords a respite from New York City’s hard concrete jungle,” said Coney Island History Project director Charles Denson. “Much like the unfortunate destruction of Penn Station before it could be landmarked, the ‘concrete solution’ to the Boardwalk’s maintenance problems is shortsighted and ill advised. This historic structure must be protected and preserved.”

Riegelmann Boardwalk

Riegelmann Boardwalk Sign at Stillwell Avenue, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita

Related posts on ATZ…

December 8, 2014: City Councilman’s Proposal to Landmark the Boardwalk Could Halt Concretewalk

March 22, 2012: The Coney Island-Brighton Beach Concretewalk Blues

March 9, 2012: The 10 People Who Will Decide the Fate of Coney Island Boardwalk

December 27, 2010: Photo of the Day: First Snow on Coney Island Boardwalk

Read Full Post »

Ruby's Bar & Grill

Chairs for Sale. Inquire Inside. Ruby’s Bar & Grill, Coney Island Boardwalk. October 18, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

Whether you’re a regular at Ruby’s Bar & Grill or a fan who drops by on Mermaid Day, here’s your chance to own an original chair from the legendary watering hole on the Coney Island Boardwalk. Ruby’s co-owner Michael Sarrel told ATZ the chairs are up for sale because they are getting new seating. The price is right — only ten bucks–marked down from $18. On a snowy day at home, you can tip back on your souvenir chair and imagine you’re back at Ruby’s in Coney Island and it’s summer.

Last week, Ruby’s November and December schedule was posted on the bar’s website: “From now until Jan. 1, we will be closed, BUT our bar will be open on weekends (weather permitting). For updates, please check our Facebook page. As is our tradition, we WILL be open for the Polar Bear Club’s annual plunge on New Year’s Day. Ruby’s is looking forward to seeing you again in 2015!”

Related posts on ATZ...

April 5, 2014: Photo Album: A Solitary Evening Stroll in Coney Island

October 3, 2012: Photo of the Day: The Weekday View from Ruby’s Bar

May 22, 2012: Photo Album: Welcome Back, Paul’s Daughter & Ruby’s Bar!

January 7, 2011: Photo of the Day: Greetings from Ruby’s Snow Mountain Resort!

Read Full Post »

LunaTics Ice Cream

Opening Day at LunaTics Ice Cream on Surf Avenue. May 24, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

On Saturday, several new businesses and exhibits opened for the season, with some operators pulling all nighters in the race to be ready for the start of Memorial Day Weekend. Among them was LunaTics Ice Cream, located in the former Island Grocery on the south side of Surf Avenue. Dennis Corines, who operated Denny’s Ice Cream a few doors away on Surf from the 1970’s until he sold his building to Coney Island USA in 2011, is a consultant to store owner Shaukat Mian.

LunaTics Ice Cream Coney Island

Denny’s Banana Pistachio at LunaTics Ice Cream. May 24, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

On Saturday they offered us a banana pistachio which tasted exactly like the last one we had in the summer of 2012, when CIUSA operated Denny’s. That’s not so long ago, but since Denny’s was destroyed by Sandy and the building is now occupied by an antique shooting gallery, we never expected to taste it again. Delicious!

LunaTics Ice Cream

Dennis Corines former owner of Denny’s Ice Cream and Shaukat Mian former operator of Island Grocery. May 24, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Shaukat Mian owns the building at 1224 Surf and operated Island Grocery at the location for 13 years. His brand-new business offers a menu similar to Denny’s. There’s soft serve ice cream in vanilla, chocolate, banana and pistachio, as well as hard ice cream, Italian ices, shakes, and cotton candy, popcorn, jelly apples and funnel cake.

The Face of Steeplechase Coney Island History Project

Charles Denson with detail of “The Face of Steeplechase” exhibit at the Coney Island History Project. May 24, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

At the non-profit Coney Island History Project on West 12th Street, a new exhibit pays tribute to the ubiquitous symbol of Coney Island, George C. Tilyou’s “Funny Face.” Variations of the Face are used to promote a slew of Coney Island products and businesses today and inspired New Jersey’s “Tillie” but it was original to Tilyou’s Steeplechase Park (1897-1964). Curated by Coney Island historian Charles Denson and featuring rare photos from his archives, the exhibit commemorates the 50th anniversary of the closing of Steeplechase and the 100th anniversary of Tilyou’s death.

The Face of Steeplechase Park: Gams, Garters, and Stockings!

Photo of the Blowhole Theater from “The Face of Steeplechase Park: Gams, Garters, and Stockings!” at the Coney Island History Project

According to the exhibit notes and the photos, the Face was originally believed to be a caricature of Tilyou’s brother Edward and underwent many changes during the park’s lifetime. “Sometimes it was a gleeful, maniacal visage,” writes Denson. “At other times, it appeared as inscrutable as the Mona Lisa.” “The Face of Steeplechase Park: Gams, Garters, and Stockings!” opened on Saturday and is on view weekends and holidays through Labor Day. Admission is free of charge.

Surf & Stillwell Brooklyn Apparel Co.

Surf & Stillwell Brooklyn Apparel Co. In Thor Equities Building on Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island. May 24, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Surf & Stillwell Brooklyn Apparel Co. opened on Saturday after getting their custom-made sign up on the building in the wee hours of the morning. It’s located on the Stillwell Avenue side of Thor Equities building in a space leased by Wampum last summer. Owned by Maya Haddad Miller and her brother Yaniv Haddad, the store will sell private label clothing. The spinoff of Brooklyn Beach Shop will be the fifth store owned by the Haddad family in Coney Island, where they have operated retail shops since 1996.

Surf & Stillwell partners Maya Haddad Miller and her brother Yaniv Haddad

Surf & Stillwell partners Maya Haddad Miller and her brother Yaniv Haddad

The new store is across the avenue from Nathan’s as well as the Coney Island Beach Shop, which Maya and Yaniv’s father Haim Haddad opened in 2002. Brooklyn Beach Shop has locations on the Boardwalk and inside Stillwell Terminal. Nathan’s Gift Shop on the Boardwalk is also operated by the Haddads, who have a licensing agreement with Nathan’s. Surf & Stillwell is the only new store so far this year in Thor’s retail building. Current tenants are It’Sugar, Brooklyn Rock, Rainbow Shops and the Brooklyn Nets.

Fred Kahl Scan-O-Rama

Fred Kahl at his Scan-O-Rama Booth. May 5, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Last summer, we wrote about Fred Kahl’s futuristic 3-D portrait studio in a former fortuneteller’s booth in Coney Island. After raising more than $16,000 via Kickstarter to fund the project, he kept the studio open year-round and it remains open Saturdays from 12 till 5pm during the spring and summer. Duplicates of the 3-D portraits are featured in a populated scale model of Thompson and Dundy’s Luna Park circa 1914 which debuted on Saturday at the Coney Island Museum.

3D Luna Park by Fred Kahl

Fred Kahl’s 3D Luna Park Installation at Coney Island Museum. Photo via TheGreatFredini.com

“Luna Park has a special place in history, a witness to the society being transformed by technology. These are the themes that are relevant to us today as our world undergoes the third industrial revolution,” says Kahl whose impressive installation is the first phase of a work in progress. “Big sigh of relief, now I need to get printing the rest of Luna Park.” The exhibit is on view during museum hours, which are currently Friday through Sunday. Admission is $5.00.

Luna Park's White Castle Trailer

Luna Park’s White Castle Trailer on Wonder Wheel Way at Stillwell Avenue, May 24, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

White Castle Express opened in Luna Park on Saturday at both the Cyclone Cafe and in the former Luna BBQ trailer on Wonder Wheel Way. After breaking the news on Friday (“White Castle Sliders Coming to Coney Island,” ATZ May 23, 2014) we’re still baffled by the divergence of friends’ reactions–from mmmm to ugh. From comments on twitter, it’s clear WC has quite a following, probably because they’ve been in biz since 1921 and in New York since 1930. That puts them in a different category than chains like Johnny Rockets (“The Original Hamburger,” founded in 1986!) and other newbies. We tried some fries and the price was right for a quick snack. Only $2.19 for medium fries including tax.

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