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Posts Tagged ‘Charles Denson’

Coney Island Pumping Station

Coney Island Pumping Station designed by architect I.S. Chanin and completed in 1938

The Coney Island Pumping Station, a long vacant and neglected 1938 art moderne gem built by Chanin Building architect I.S. Chanin on Coney Island Creek is among nearly 100 proposed landmarks set to be dropped en masse from the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s calendar on December 9th. The city-owned building would be the only landmark outside of Coney’s amusement area, which has six landmarks. Gravesend’s privately owned Van Sicklen House, often referred to as Lady Deborah Moody’s House, is also in the group of buildings, all of which were first calendared prior to 2010.

In this morning’s email an Urgent Preservation Alert from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) confirmed the news first posted on Friday by Landmarks West and posted a link to the official notice on the LPC’s website.

Pegasus

Pegasus statues from the Coney Island Pumping Station were removed to the Brooklyn Museum’s Sculpture Garden for safekeeping in 1980. Photo © Charles Denson

Decommissioned as a fire pumping station in 1976, the long vacant structure on Neptune Avenue is listed as a “non-residential structure with no use” in the database of City-owned property. Nothing ever came of a plan reported by the NY Times in 1990 to spend $23 million to revive the structure to connect two wings of transitional housing for homeless families.

Today, Charles Denson, director of the Coney Island History Project, says the facade can be restored and the building reused. As part of the City’s “How Would You Spend One Million” participatory budgeting program, Denson has already proposed using the property for a “constructed wetland” bio-filter demonstration project on Coney Island Creek. “This project would demonstrate the benefits of natural filtration as a way to clean Coney Island Creek’s storm sewers using natural methods of wastewater treatment.”

“The demonstration project would consist of tanks of Spartina filtering waste water that now flows untreated into Coney Island Creek,” writes Denson, who grew up in the neighborhood and recently released a film on the uncertain future on the Creek. “The project, located on city-owned land behind the old Neptune Avenue pumping station, would be educational, create habitat for wildlife, and help clean a recreational environment that is heavily used by the surrounding Coney Island community. Local schools could work with teachers and scientists to build and operate this small facility.” Machinery for the project would be located inside the building, Denson says.

Coney Island Pumping Station

Coney Island Pumping Station, Neptune Avenue. July 18, 2014. Photo © Charles Denson

After being proposed for landmark designation in 1980, the building was to be mothballed and protected for future use, according to a 1981 article in The Society for Commercial Archaeology News Journal. However, the city proved unable to protect the building from vandals who removed the nickel silver, steel, aluminum and granite trim, and chiseled away at the facade and the winged horses at the building’s entrance. “In an attempt to protect the sculpture from further vandalism, Charles Savage, director of the Commission’s salvage program, managed to have them removed to the Brooklyn Museum for safekeeping. Local press applauded the preservation of this portion of the so-called ‘off-beat Coney Island landmark.'”

According to today’s alert from GVSHP’s Andrew Berman:

The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has just scheduled a vote for next Tuesday, December 9th on a mass ‘de-calendaring’ of nearly one hundred buildings and structures throughout the five boroughs. With no testimony from the public allowed and without even consideration of the individual merits of each site, the Commission will vote to ‘de-calendar’ or remove scores of buildings from its calendar for official consideration as individual landmarks

When a site has been “calendared” by the LPC, it is officially under consideration for landmark status, and the Commission can hold a public hearing and/or vote to designate the structure. Perhaps more importantly, calendaring means that no demolition, construction, or alteration permits can be granted for a site without first notifying the LPC and allowing them up to forty days to designate the structure or negotiate a change or withdrawal of the permit applications. Once de-calendared, the Commission gets no notification of such permit applications and has no power to delay their issuance, allowing these buildings to be altered or demolished at will.

GVSHP has called upon the LPC to drop the proposed mass de-calendaring, and to instead consider the individual merits of each of the structures in question through an open public hearing and review process (read letter HERE).

HOW TO HELP:

Write to the Mayor and the Chair of the LPC right away and urge them to drop the proposed de-calendaring>>

Hold Tuesday, December 9th on your calendar — if the City does not drop the proposed de-calendaring, we will need you to join us and other preservationists on the day of the vote to protest this egregious action.

A map of the nearly 100 structures throughout the city set to be de-calendered is HERE.

LPC decalendering

UPDATE December 5, 2014:

An email this morning from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation with the good news! BREAKING: Facing Mass Opposition City Drops Plan For De-Calendaring of Nearly 100 Potential Landmarks! Thanks to Andrew Berman of GVSHP and other advocacy groups for their leadership on this issue. We hope there is a silver lining to this and the buildings that were calendered long ago and forgotten, like the Coney Island Pumping Station, finally get the consideration they deserve.

On the website of the Landmarks Preservation Commission the following notice was posted: STATEMENT FROM CHAIR MEENAKSHI SRINIVASAN RE: PROPOSAL TO ADDRESS AGENCY BACKLOG… Agency will take additional time to consider its proposal to issue “no action” letters to items that have been on LPC’s calendar for five years or more with no action taken by the Commission. “In response to community requests for more time, the Commission has decided not to proceed on December 9th and take a pause to continue to consider feedback on aspects of the proposal. We remain committed to making the Landmarks Commission more effective and responsive in its work, and to clearing a backlog of items that have sat idle for decades so that we can focus on today’s preservation opportunities.”

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Coney Island History Project Collection

On the Beach, 1934. Coney Island History Project Collection

On Presidents Day, the Coney Island History Project and Urban Neighborhood Services are celebrating Black History Month with a slideshow of historic images and a panel discussion in Coney’s West End. Among the photos are this wonderful snapshot of “Tootsie, Blanche and Alma” on Coney Island beach in 1934. “The History of Coney Island’s West End and the Presence and Contributions of African Americans in Coney Island from the 1600s to the Present” will feature never-before-seen images from the archive of History Project director Charles Denson as well as photos that he took in the 1970s. The free event is on February 17 from 4-6pm at PS 329, 2929 West 30th Street in Coney Island.

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Steeplechase Pier Reopened

Steeplechase Pier reopened today with a wavy new lounger and other amenities. October 2, 2013. Photo © Charles Denson, Coney Island History Project via flickr

Coney Island’s Steeplechase Pier, which has been under construction since March, was inspected and reopened today to the delight of visitors enjoying the summery weather. The reopening happened without any official fanfare nearly a year after the pier was damaged during Superstorm Sandy. Today, the construction workers simply left for the last time and the sunbathers, fishermen and photographers returned to their usual spots and found some new ones, including the wave-shaped bench seen above. Among the first to set foot on the sleek new pier was the Coney Island History Project‘s Charles Denson, who shot these amazing photos.

Steeplechase Pier

View from newly reconstructed Steeplechase Pier, Coney Island. October 2, 2013. Photo © Charles Denson, Coney Island History Project via flickr

New amenities on the 1,000 foot long pier include a communal lounger made of wave-shaped wood and a variety of seating options. The wood on all the benches as well as the handrail wood is reclaimed ipe from the old decking that was on the pier. There’s also a shade structure with letters spelling out CONEY ISLAND that cast an elegant shadow on the pier and can be viewed from above by seagulls, helicopters and the gods of the air.

LTL Architects custom designed the benches as well as the overhead screens. Their redesign for the reconstruction of the pierwon Special Recognition at the 31st Annual Awards for Excellence in Design by the New York City Design Commission. Vibha Agarwala of LTR Architects told ATZ the construction is complete but there will be some final touches, including bait cutting stations. The work was carried out by T.B. Penick and their New York division Triton Structural. The construction company was awarded projects totaling $120 million for repairs to New York City’s Superstorm Sandy damaged beaches.

Steeplechase Pier

Coney Island’s Reconstructed Steeplechase Pier. October 2, 2013. Photo © Charles Denson, Coney Island History Project via flickr

Over the weekend, word on the Boardwalk was that Steeplechase Pier, which has been under reconstruction due to damage sustained last October during Superstorm Sandy, would reopen this week. The Parks Department confirmed the pier would open soon but did not announce a date. October 29, 2013 will be the anniversary of the storm surge that devastated Coney Island. Steeplechase Pier had to be completely reconstructed post-Sandy and was originally expected to be finished by July. The rebuilt pier and the landmarked Parachute Jump are the sole survivors of Coney Island’s Steeplechase Park, which closed in 1964.

Steeplechase Pier

Workers leaving as reconstructed Steeplechase Pier reopened today. October 2, 2013. Photo © Charles Denson, Coney Island History Project via flickr

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April 14, 2013: Photo Update: Sunken Barge at Steeplechase Pier in Coney Island

March 14, 2013: Photo of the Day: Repairing Sandy-Damaged Steeplechase Pier

October 31, 2012: Photo Album: Hurricane Sandy’s Aftermath in Coney Island

August 24, 2010: Video: Coney Island Pier Divers by Kevin C Downs

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Cha Cha’s, “Home of Wild Women and Wise Guys” and “Live Entertainment for the Hole Family” is gone from the new Coney Island, but the video “Coney Island Poker Face” lives on! Shot in September 2010 by historian Charles Denson, the video features Cha Cha’s regular Frankie Oil dancing to Lady Gaga’s hit while his pal Johnny Corona cheers him on.

Try typing “Live Entertainment for the Hole family” and Google will ask — Did you mean: “Live entertainment for the whole family”?

Nope, we meant “Hole Family.” The charmingly idiosyncratic spelling on the sign is visible in Denson’s slow pan of the Boardwalk bar and cafe, which also takes in the floral wreath for Cha Cha’s longtime manager John Thomas, who had just died, and the lettering of the doomed Shoot the Freak next door. Was “The Hole Family” a painter’s typo? An inside joke like the sign’s enigmatic “Don’t Sleep”? It definitely caught people’s attention and became a conversation piece.

“HA HA HA! Classic.”— A Guy Walks into 365 Bars

Who is this “Hole Family” you speak of? -PJ Coleman via flickr

“Where else but Brooklyn would you see a sign that offered ‘Live Entertainment For The Hole family.’ Who’s the Hole family? Courtney Love and Frances Bean Cobain?” — MemoriesofBrooklyn.blogspot.com

ATZ uncovered clues to the identity of “the Hole Family” a few years ago, but amid the upheaval over Cha Cha’s Boardwalk bar losing its lease in 2011 and the move to Surf Avenue sans the original sign, we never had a chance to write about it. Cha Cha’s officially closed after SuperStorm Sandy.

Whole Darnd Family

Coney Island, The Whole Darnd Family. circa 1910. Bain News Service

“The Hole Family” is related to the Whole Darnd family, who are pictured visiting Coney Island with their monkeys in this vintage photo, which also happens to be part of the mosaic at the top of this blog. The Darnd family is a polite takeoff on the title of Edwin S Porter’s silent screen hit “The Whole Dam Family and the Family Dog” (1905).

According to one of the many comic postcards and lithos featuring the Dam family– Mr. I.B. Dam, Miss U.B Dam and their relatives — they were the most popular and widely known family in the United States on account of their unfortunate last name. “Too much notoriety” was rumored to have killed the Dam Family. The curious thing is that at 2:36, the animated letters spell out The Hole Dam Family before the last letter, the “W,” finally tumbles into place.

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December 28, 2012: Amusing the Zillion’s Top 10 Coney Island Videos of 2012

December 8, 2012: Sunday Matinee: Princess Rajah’s Chair Dance (1904)

January 18, 2012: Video of the Day: Climbing Coney Island’s Parachute Jump

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THRILLS

THRILLS. Copyright Philomena Marano

“Thrills,” a group show featuring Coney Island and carnival-themed photography and art opens today at Smart Clothes Gallery on the Lower East Side. The artists are Lawrence Berzon, Charles Denson, Jane Dickson, Richard Eagan, Hazel Hankin, Marc Kehoe, Philomena Marano, and Marie Roberts. The reception is tonight from 6-9pm and the show runs through July 28th.

Thunderbolt

Thunderbolt. Photo copyright Hazel Hankin

Photographer Charles Denson is the author of “Coney Island: Lost and Found” and director of the Coney Island History Project. Artists Richard Eagan and Philomena Marano founded the Coney Island Hysterical Society in the 1980s. Coney Island has also been a longtime source of inspiration for painter Marc Kehoe and photographer Hazel Hankin, who have exhibited with CIHS. Marie Roberts is artist-in-residence at Coney Island USA, where she paints the banners for Sideshows by the Seashore and the Mermaid Parade.

“Thrills” at Smart Clothes Gallery, 154 Stanton Street, New York, NY 10002. Open Wednesday through Sunday, 12:00 pm – 6:30 pm. Phone 212-627-3276.

Coney Island

Critical Blue © Charles Denson

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August 6, 2012: Art of the Day: Madame Twisto by Marie Roberts

March 10, 2011: Video: Seasons of the Cyclone Roller Coaster by Charles Denson

October 26, 2010: Studio Visit: Philomena Marano of the Coney Island Hysterical Society

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B&B Carousell Letter

B&B Carousell Letter Being Raised Into Place. May 23, 2013. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project flickr

The large-scale neon letters spelling B & B CAROUSELL with a double L, of course, went up on the historic ride’s new pavilion on the Boardwalk today. Charles Denson of the Coney Island History Project happened to be there to take this spectacular series of photographs. On Friday morning, the grand opening of Steeplechase Plaza and the return of the 1919 carousel to Coney Island will be celebrated by Mayor Bloomberg and other elected officials, local residents and invited guests. The carousel was saved from the auction block in 2005, when the Mayor came to Coney Island for a hastily arranged press conference to announce the City would purchase the ride for $1.8 million.

B&B Carousell Letter

B&B Carousell Letter Being Raised Into Place. May 23, 2013. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project flickr

“Dozens of carousels have left Coney Island forever but the B&B Carousell is the only one to actually leave and come back,” said Denson, when the first restored horse was exhibited last May at the Coney Island History Project. B&B is short for Bishoff and Brienstein, who brought the carousel back home to Coney Island from New Jersey’s Bertrand Island in 1932. The frame was the work of Coney’s William F. Mangels Carousell Works and the carvings were done by Charles Carmel except for the lead horse by M.C. Illions. Jimmy McCullough and Mike Saltzstein owned and operated the ride since the 1970s. Welcome home to the B&B!

B&B Carousell Pavilion

B&B Carousell Pavilion. May 23, 2013. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project flickr

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May 26, 2013: A Portrait of Abe Lincoln on Coney Island’s B&B Carousell

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Playland Arcade

Remaining Playland Letters Saved by the Coney Island History Project. February 14, 2013. Photo © Coney Island History Project

The demolition of Coney Island’s Playland Arcade got underway in October, but was interrupted by Sandy. The job was finished today. It’s gone!

Charles Denson of the Coney Island History Project managed to save the remaining letters on the facade– L, N and D– and several of the whimsical yet deteriorating murals. “Our previous efforts at preservation were hampered by trespassers, vandals, black mold, the untimely death of Playland’s caretaker, Andy Badalamenti, as well as Superstorm Sandy,” according to a photo album on the History Project’s Facebook page. The artifacts will be exhibited this season.

An arcade existed in the Playland building from the 1930s until 1981, operated by four sets of brothers over a fifty year period. In 1981 the arcade machines were auctioned and the business closed, leaving Playland vacant for the past thirty years.

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October 23, 2012: Playland Arcade Demolition Under Way in Coney Island

Janaury 31, 2012: Remnant of Under Boardwalk Bar Found in Coney Island

Janaury 16, 2012: Photo of the Day: Signs of Coney’s Club Atlantis Resurface

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

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