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Posts Tagged ‘Superstorm Sandy’

Mrooklyn Community Services

Maxim Kornev’s mural, the winner of the ‘Community’ theme for the Brooklyn Community Services mural contest honoring Coney Island after the storm

The winner of the “Community” theme for Brooklyn Community Services’ mural contest honoring Coney Island after Superstorm Sandy is Max Kornev. The work of the 27-year-old artist, who grew up in the neighborhood, will brighten a wall at BCS’s new offices on Mermaid Avenue. Kornev’s design juxtaposes the Wonder Wheel, Parachute Jump, Steeplechase Funny Face and a ginormous mermaid with sea gulls carrying letters that spell BCS and Coney Islanders lining up behind beach umbrellas.

Founded in 1866, Brooklyn Community Services has offices throughout the borough. In Coney Island, BCS is working in collaboration with Astella Development Corp. and Coney Recovers to assist Brooklyn residents affected by the storm. According to the organization’s website, BCS is “providing short and long-term relief, recovery services, and assistance including benefits assistance, mental health and family counseling, clothing, support and guidance around entitlements, and essential furnishings.” For information about making a donation or getting involved as a volunteer, visit WeAreBCS.org.

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June 21, 2012: Photo Album: Mermaid Avenue Murals and Public Art

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Hurricane Sandy Aftermath in Coney Island

Steeplechase Pier, Coney Island. October 30, 2012. Photo © Jim McDonnell

It’s still painful to look at photos taken in the days after Sandy. On the one year anniversary, from the many photos posted on ATZ over the past year, we’re highlighting four public amenities and amusement park icons in Coney Island which were ravaged by the storm. The four were not only rebuilt but have also undergone a dramatic transformation from the way they looked before Sandy. On October 30, 2012, photographer Jim McDonnell took the first photos that we saw of damage in Coney’s amusement area, including the heartbreaking photograph above of Steeplechase Pier. The 1,040-foot-pier, a popular spot for strolling, sunbathing, fishing and watching the fireworks, finally reopened on October 2nd after several months of reconstruction by T.B. Penick and Triton Structural.

Steeplechase Pier

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

The sleek new pier, as photographed by Charles Denson of the Coney Island History Project, is light years ahead of the pier that preceded it. Originally built by George Tilyou in 1904 as part of his Steeplechase Park, the pier was later acquired by the City of New York City and had to be rebuilt in the late 1950s after a fire.

A waved-shaped communal lounger and benches made from reclaimed ipe from the pier’s old decking are among the new amenities. There’s also a shade structure with letters spelling out CONEY ISLAND that cast an elegant shadow. LTL Architects redesign for the reconstruction of the pier won Special Recognition at the 31st Annual Awards for Excellence in Design by the New York City Design Commission.

Coney Island Library

Coney Island Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library on Mermaid Avenue. February 22, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Nearly a year after being wrecked by Sandy, the Coney Island Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library reopened on October 23rd after a $2.5 million rebuilding effort. The interior has been completely transformed by Beatty Harvey Coco Architects, a firm which specializes in libraries. Huge photos of Coney Island’s landmark Wonder Wheel, Cyclone and Parachute Jump decorate the walls. Photos of the redesigned library, including new furniture, computer stations and meeting rooms can be seen in “Photo Album: Coney Island Library’s Comeback from Sandy,” (ATZ, October 24, 2013)

Coney Island Library

Coney Island Library Reopened on October 23 nearly a year after Sandy. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

The venerable, circa 1923 “Grandma’s Predictions” has been telling fortunes under Coney Island’s 1920 Wonder Wheel all her life. Her inner workings were destroyed by floodwater from Sandy. Grandma, an irreplaceable antique as well as a good luck charm for the Vourderis family who own Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, was taken to arcade restorer Bob Yorburg’s studio in Putnam County for some TLC.

Grandma's Predictions

Grandma’s Predictions after Sandy, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, Coney Island. November 10, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

The rare fortunetelling machine got eye surgery as well as a new wig, dress and wax hands cast from the original mold. A fine new cabinet was hand-crafted based on the design of one from the 1920s. Her motto “What does Grandma Say?”was hand-lettered in gold leaf. Grandma returned to her spot under the Wonder Wheel on Mother’s Day. Get your fortune told — only 50 cents!

Grandma's Predictions

Grandma’s Predictions, newly restored 90-year-old fortunetelling machine under the Wonder Wheel in Coney Island. May 12, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

One of the casualties of Sandy in Coney Island’s amusement area was Denny’s Ice Cream, established in 1978 and owned by Coney Island USA. The nonprofit arts organization bought Dennis Corines’ building next door to CIUSA’s headquarters in 2011 for $1.3 million with the idea of eventually expanding their arts space. In the meantime, they kept the beloved ice cream shop open, serving banana pistachio cones and other popular treats until the store fixtures were destroyed by Sandy. Since the building had to be gutted, the future renovations had to happen in time for the 2013 season. What to do?

Denny's Ice Cream

Coney Island Post-Sandy: Interior Demolition of Storm-Ravaged Denny’s Ice Cream, Surf Avenue. November 17, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr. November 17, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

The idea of installing and restoring this 1940s Mangels shooting gallery on loan from Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park came up when it had to be moved during the park’s renovations after the storm. The gallery was manufactured in Coney Island by William F. Mangels, the inventor of such early 20th century thrill rides as the Whip and the Tickler, and the builder of the mechanism for the B & B Carousell. Intact Mangels shooting galleries are exceptionally rare since most were long ago sold for scrap metal or broken up by antique dealers who sell the targets individually to collectors. The Shooting Gallery’s Arts Annex hosts sideshow performances and this year’s Creep Show at the Freak Show, which continues through October 31.

Mangels Shooting Gallery

1940s Mangels Shooting Gallery, Coney Island USA. August 3, 2013.Photo © Tricia Vita

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Coney Island Library

Brooklyn Public Library Coney Island Branch Library on Mermaid Avenue. October 23, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

The Coney Island Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library reopened on Wednesday for the first time since it was severely damaged by Superstorm Sandy almost a year ago. The lobby and interior have been decorated with photos of Coney Island’s landmark Wonder Wheel, Cyclone and Parachute Jump from the library’s Brooklyn collection. The Jump itself is just down the block and can be seen from the Mermaid Avenue library’s plate-glass windows.

Coney Island Library

Vintage photos of Coney Island’s landmark rides adorn the walls of the Coney Island Library. October 23, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

A few weeks after Sandy, the Daily News reported that five Brooklyn libraries wrecked by Sandy would require $10 million in repairs with the Coney Island location being one of the most seriously damaged. 35,177 books and DVDs were lost. The photos were horrific. Built in 1956, the library not only has new books and DVDs, it was beautifully redesigned to reflect the history of the neighborhood and meet the 21st century needs of the community.

Coney Island Library

Computer stations, comfy chairs, and the Parachute Jump. October 23, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

The children’s books and the computers, which used to be on the second floor, are now located on the main floor. The new computer stations, comfy reading chairs, and kid-sized tables equipped with iPads were already popular on opening day. The second floor is now designated “the quiet room” for studying and its auditorium has been replaced by two meeting rooms on the first floor.

Coney Island Library

Recycled boards from the Boardwalk on the ceiling at the Coney Island Library. October 23, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

Recycled boards from the Coney Island Boardwalk are incorporated into the design of the ceiling. The $2.5 million rebuilding effort was supported by public and private funding. You can make a contribution to the Coney Island Library on the Brooklyn Public Library’s website. Make sure to select “Additional Options – I would like to direct my donation to Coney Island.”

Coney Island Library

Children using Coney Island Library’s new iPads. October 23, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita


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October 2, 2013: Photo Album: Coney’s Rebuilt Steeplechase Pier Opened Today

September 25, 2013: Clock Ticking on Plan for the Landmark Childs Building

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

October 31, 2012: Photo Album: Hurricane Sandy’s Aftermath 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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Steeplechase Pier

Workers at Coney Island’s Sandy-damaged Steeplechase Pier, September 28, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Over the weekend, word on the Boardwalk was that Steeplechase Pier, which has been under reconstruction since March due to damage sustained during Superstorm Sandy, would reopen on Tuesday. Work is almost complete and will be finished this week, according to the workers who were heading off the pier.

ATZ checked with the Parks Department today and the pier will indeed reopen sometime in October, though not on October 1st. The pier will need to be inspected first, a Parks Department official told ATZ. The 1,000-foot-pier is a popular spot for fishermen as well as for photographers, who were already making plans to return to their favorite spot tomorrow and will now have to wait a little bit longer. The pier had to be completely reconstructed post-Sandy and was originally expected to be finished by July.

Update: The pier reopened on Wednesday, October 2nd. Here are the first photos!

Steeplechase Pier

Work is Nearly Complete on Coney Island’s Sandy-damaged Steeplechase Pier, September 28, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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This weekend, the 13th Annual Coney Island Film Festival will screen 88 films in 16 different programs beginning with Friday’s opening night film and a kickoff party featuring sideshow, burlesque and an open bar. This year’s selections include films starring Coney Island characters past and present—photographer Matt Weber, sideshow talker Scott Baker, sideshow performer Tyler Fleet AKA Tyler Fyre, Coney Island Dancers “Commander in Chief” Rican Vargas and Ruby’s longtime bartender Sammy Rodriguez. There are also films featuring vampire bikers played by veteran actors from ‘The Warriors,” Coney handball champs, Coney strongmen, and Superstorm Sandy. A special late night screening of “The Warriors” is scheduled for Saturday.

Here are ATZ’s top 10 picks for this year’s Coney Island Film Festival. Yes, all of the films on our must-see list happen to be documentary features or shorts! The last three films are part of the popular Coney Island-themed Program 16 that closes the festival on Sunday night.

More Than the Rainbow – Opening Night- Friday, September 20, 7:30pm

Matt Weber’s striking black and white photos of Coney from the 1980’s –The Atlantis, the ruins of Stauch’s Baths, signage for Philip’s Salt Water Taffy, the Cyclops atop Spook-A-Rama — were our first intro to his work. “I’m very nostalgic, I like things from the the 30s, 40s and 50s,” says the New York City cabbie turned street photographer in this clip that follows him and his young daughter around Coney Island. Couples on the beach, a family in front of Nathan’s and daredevils diving from the pier are among his subjects. Directed by Dan Wechsler with cinematography by Arlene Muller, this engaging character study is set to the music of Thelonius Monk. Documentary feature, 83 minutes.

One Wall: Kings of Coney Island – Program 3 – Saturday, September 21, 3:00pm

From September 25-29, the U.S. Handball Association’s National One-Wall Championships will be held at Coney Island’s Seaside Handball Courts at Surf Avenue and West 5th Street as they have for more than 50 years. If the sport were basketball, volleyball or tennis, chances are you’d know about it already and the names of the players would be on the tip of your tongue. As Coney Island-born handball champ Joe Durso says in Joe Glickman’s film, “You need an iconic figure that can capture the public’s interest. There is no future of handball without such a figure.” The film follows Durso and other athletes as they compete for the championship in 2011. You can watch the trailer on Vimeo. Documentary feature, 86 minutes.

Mad Santa – Program 5- Saturday, September 21, 5:00pm

Mad Santa

The Coney Island Sideshow’s longtime outside talker Scott Baker is a trained actor with many stage and film credits, but we had no idea he is also New York City’s #1 department store Santa. This documentary short by Scott Shire follows “Mad Santa” as he brings seasonal cheer to young and old and tells tales from Christmases past. Baker also appears in two other films at this year’s film festival: The documentary short “The Rehearsal” (Program 15 – Sunday, September 22 – 5:15pm) follows Baker’s rehearsal of his new magic act. “Welcome to Madness” is a horror film set in the world of the theater (Program 8 – Saturday, September 21, 2013 – 8:00pm).

Scattered – Program 5 – Saturday, September 21, 5:00pm

Filmmaker Lindsay Lindenbaum uses home movies from her childhood in the 90s to delve into family memoir and discover the true story of her late father. Based on the riveting trailer, it’s clear he liked to take her to amusement parks. The clips show Six Flags and Wildwood in New Jersey, and Disneyworld as well as local fairs and carnivals in the tri-state area, says Lindenbaum. Earlier this year, she successfully raised more than $13,000 on Kickstarter to complete the film. “I started this film in the fall of 2011, soon after my father passed away. After being estranged from him for most of my life, I was left with many questions that I thought would forever be unanswered. As I started putting the pieces of his life together and delved through over 100 hours of his home movies, I began to see his world and understand his story through his own eyes.” Documentary short, 26:28 minutes

The Commander in Chief – Program 11 – Sunday, September 22 – 1:00pm

Commander in Chief

Photographer and videographer Jim McDonnell’s Coney Island Dancing videos compiling a summer’s worth of dance moves have been something to look forward to every September since 2010. ATZ has enjoyed and posted every one of them. Last year, Jim, who works professionally as a footage guru, got the idea to make a documentary feature about Rican Vargas, the founder and “Commander in Chief” of Coney Island Dancers, and his Boardwalk dance parties. With the idea of showing what is takes to get ready for the season, filming began in the fall, just after Sandy, and ended on the first day of summer at the Mermaid Parade. As it turned out, a few weeks after filming ended, Vargas made claims of racism against some members of the community, went into seclusion, and disbanded Coney Island Dancers, leaving many of his followers baffled by his actions. It will be interesting to see what “Commander in Chief” reveals in retrospect about this charismatic and controversial Coney Island character. Documentary Feature, 77 minutes. World Premiere.

Bending Steel – Program 13 – Sunday, September 22 – 3:00pm

“Bending Steel” opened at the Tribeca Film Festival to stellar reviews and is currently on the film festival circuit with upcoming screenings in Calgary, Maine, Kansas and Florida. Dave Carroll’s documentary touched viewers because the introverted Chris Schoeck doesn’t look the part of an old time strongman nor does he have the panache of a sideshow performer. His quest to become both is inspirational. The film follows Schoeck as he attempts to become a professional strongman, from training in his small basement storage unit and getting pointers from a fraternity of strongmen to his first performance onstage in Coney Island.”The sight of this very strong man tackling a moment of complete vulnerability gives ‘Bending Steel,’ however briefly, the hold-your-breath drama of a fine sports film,” said a review in Hollywood Reporter. Before and immediately after the screening, there will be live strongman demonstrations from three of the films stars–Chris Schoeck, Chris Rider and Adam Realman. Documentary feature, 93 minutes.

The Down Home Daredevils – Program 15 – Sunday, September 22, 5:15pm

Lucky Devil Thrillshow Stereovision Photo

The Lucky Daredevil Thrillshow‘s Tyler Fleet aka Tyler Fyre was the outside talker, fire-eater and sword swallower at Coney Island Circus Sideshow from 1998 till 2004. For the past several years he and his wife “Thrill Kill Jill,” snake charmer and sword swallower, have been touring the country in their Airstream. The arrival of two boys – Hank and Duke – has made for some adorable family photos, not to mention the challenge of juggling their sideshow career with parenthood. The documentary by Corcoran College of Art new media photojournalism students Ben Dorger, Jenny Harnish and Emma Scott follows the family from their home in West Virginia to the Hell City Tattoo Convention in Columbus, Ohio. Documentary Short, 12:07, World Premiere.
(Update October 6, 2013… You can watch the short online here.)

Sammy’s 80th Birthday Party at Ruby’s 2007 – Program 16 – Sunday, September 22, 6:00pm

Sammy Lou Dembrow

Sammy Rodriguez came from Puerto Rico and worked as a porter, fry cook and bartender in Coney Island for six decades. The story goes that he had a job at the spot “under the boardwalk” before Ruby Jacobs bought the place and kept him on. As one of my friends says, “He helped create Ruby’s as we know it.” Sam’s birthday is October 1st. When Lou Dembrow shot “Sammy’s 80th Birthday Party at Ruby’s 2007,” old friends came out to meet and greet the beloved bartender, who had already been retired for five years. Dembrow won Best Documentary Short at the 2012 Coney Island Film Festival for her film about the Wonder Wheel. Documentary short, 4:30 minutes, World premiere.

The Storm – Program 16 – Sunday, September 22, 6:00pm

The Storm Charles Denson

Last October, Coney Island historian Charles Denson took dramatic photos and video of the devastation at Sea Gate on the western end of Coney Island the morning after Hurricane Sandy. He rode out the hurricane in Sea Gate where his apartment flooded up to the windows and his car floated away, ultimately destroyed by the storm surge. The film covers preparation for the storm, the surge at Coney Island and Sea Gate, and the storm’s aftermath. In 2009, Denson’s film “The Prince of Mermaid Avenue” was awarded Best Documentary Feature at the 9th Annual Coney Island Film Festival. You can view some of his films and trailers on his Coneyologist channel on YouTube. Documentary short, 20 minutes. World premiere.

Last Ride…First Ride – Program 16 – Sunday, September 22, 6:00pm

Last Ride First Ride Daniel Turkewitz

When Daniel Turkewitz shot footage at the Eldorado Bumper Cars and Arcade “Last Ride of 2012″ party, it wasn’t clear if the famed attraction would reopen for the 2013 season. The lease renewal was up in the air. Posters advertised “Bump Your Ass Off…The End of an Era” and everyone came out to party one last time. There were sideshow stars and go go dancers on the Skeeball lanes and a raffle of Eldorado merchandise. A few days later, the lease came through but the Eldorado was wrecked by Sandy. The documentary chronicles the last ride of 2012 and Gordon Lee’s struggle to reopen in the spring. After the film, everyone will troop next door to the Eldorado for the Coney Island Film Festival Awards Ceremony followed by a spin on the bumper cars. Documentary short, 13:10 minutes. Brooklyn premiere.

The 13th Annual Coney Island Film Festival, September 20 – 22, 2013, at Coney Island USA, 1208 Surf Avenue, Coney Island

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Temporary lights on the Boardwalk

Temporary lights are currently in use on the Boardwalk in Coney Island’s amusement district. April 22, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Let there be light at night on the Boardwalk! On Wednesday, Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced over $1 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency funding for Superstorm Sandy-related repairs to lighting along the Coney Island Boardwalk. The Boardwalk’s distinctive twin cast iron light poles, which were installed with $1.2 million allocated in 2004, have not been operational since Sandy. Portable trailer-mounted lighting units were brought in earlier this year.

According to a news release, FEMA will provide $1,220,599 in federal funding to the NYC Department of Transportation for the repairs of the street lighting system serving the Coney Island Boardwalk’s 122 ornamental light poles.

Senator Charles Schumer at Coney Island Opening Day

Senator Charles Schumer at Coney Island Opening Day Ceremonies, March 24, 2013. Photo via Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park flickr

“Coney Island’s much-loved boardwalk was seriously damaged by Superstorm Sandy, including its lighting system,” said Schumer. “This federal funding will get the lights back on, just in time for summer, and make sure that New York City residents are not on the hook entirely for these expenses.”

“The iconic Coney Island boardwalk was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy, with its street lighting completely destroyed,” Gillibrand said. “This necessary reimbursement is an important step as we continue to meet New York’s needs to recover and rebuild.”

Coney Island’s rides and the majority of the businesses in the amusement area opened for the season on Palm Sunday. Nathan’s on Surf Avenue, Coney Island USA and the New York Aquarium reopened on Memorial Day Weekend. New construction and post-Sandy renovations are still underway. In April’s photo album, ATZ focused on Steeplechase Pier, Steeplechase Plaza and the Boardwalk, and the Applebee’s on the north side of Surf Avenue. In May’s construction update, we looked at the south side of Surf Avenue and Jones Walk.

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May 24, 2013: Photo Album: B&B Carousell’s Showy Letters Go Up

May 16, 2013: Shooting Gallery Revival in Post-Sandy Coney Island

April 17, 2013: Sandy-Damaged Grimaldi’s Pizzeria in Coney Island to Reopen in 2 Weeks

March 4, 2013: Nathan’s on Coney Island Boardwalk to Open Mid-March, Surf Ave by May

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