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Rainbow at Wonder Wheel

Rainbow at Wonder Wheel, Coney Island. September 20, 2012. Photo © Kim Lofgren

Coney Island girl Kim Lofgren is a writer and performing magician who lives on the 7th and top floor of a privately owned building on Stillwell Avenue that’s been without power for 13 days. Before Hurricane Sandy, Kim was best known to us for her exquisite photos of Coney Island rainbows taken from her balcony across the street from Stillwell Terminal. On Monday, when we happened to see her having lunch at Tom’s on the Boardwalk, Kim pulled out her phone and showed us the horrifying video posted below of the storm surge on Stillwell. “I really felt that’s what it looks like when Armageddon begins. Lost power after that-water surged 4-8 ft looking inky in darkness,” she wrote yesterday after posting a link on twitter.

As one of @KimberLofgren’s twitter friends, we’ve been following her ordeal via a series of increasingly desperate tweets to Con Edison, some of which are posted below. As it happens, we have other friends in the building, which is of recent construction and very well maintained. Also living on the 7th floor are an elderly couple who evacuated from Sea Gate, where their home was destroyed, to the safety of their daughter’s apartment. The father is in very poor health. We have not been able to reach them by phone but have been getting reports via their relatives and mutual friends. Some of our other friends in Coney Island are in buildings where power was restored temporarily–and in some cases intermittently– by generators.

Looking at Kim’s video of the storm surge from Hurricane Sandy, you’ll understand why each building needs to be certified and why everyone we know in Coney Island lost their car.

UPDATE November 11, 2012:

While Kim’s building got power back on Sunday at around 4pm, many other buildings in Coney Island –both privately owned and city housing projects– remain without power. According to a New York Times article on service updates, Con Edison said it had restored power to all but 2,617 customers (an apartment building is sometimes counted as one customer) in New York City as of Sunday evening. BUT that number does not include 22,000 still without power in low-lying neighborhoods like Coney Island who must first have an electrician certify the building as safe, which was the case with Kim’s building.

Friends in Amalgamated Warbasse – 5 buildings, about 2,700 families – are reporting intermittent power. “Here I go walking down 159 steps again! Building 4 Warbasse is doomed!” said a friend on Facebook. “Our power is still run by a generator and they keep switching them.”

Also as of Sunday, the following NYCHA housing in the west end of Coney Island had no electricity: Coney Island I (Site 8)- 1 building housing 361 people, Surfside Gardens- 5 buildings housing 1,167 residents, O’Dwyer Gardens- 6 buildings housing 974 residents. The following had no heat or hot water: Carey Gardens- 4 buildings housing 1,642 residents; Coney Island- 5 buildings housing 1,203 residents, Coney Island I (Site 8) – 1 building housing 361 residents, Coney Island I (Sites 4 and 5)- 2 buildings housing 1,075 residents, O’Dwyer Gardens- 6 buildings housing 974 residents, and Surfside Gardens- 5 buildings housing 1,167 residents. Excellent reporting on the dire situation in these buildings by the New York Daily News (Video) and The Guardian.

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Related posts on ATZ…

November 9, 2012: Update on Coney Island’s Amusement Area After Sandy

October 30, 2012: Photo Album: Hurricane Sandy’s Aftermath in Coney Island

October 29, 2012: Photos of the Day: Hurricane Sandy Approaches Coney Island

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Coney Island’s Steeplechase Pier is a popular spot for fishing and diving as well as for people-watching and photography. For photographer Kevin C Downs, who spends his summers running an annual photo documentary workshop at Coney Island USA, the pier is a magnet. His photos and video capture the daredevil spirit of the pier divers, who defy the “No Diving” signs for the thrill of the jump. Says one teenager: “It’s like…the adrenalin rush. It’s high. It’s better than going on any rides. It’s cheaper than Six Flags.”

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June 16, 2010: Coney Island Photography Workshop with Kevin C Downs

March 30, 2010: Super 8 Movie: I Had A Dream I Went To Coney Island

January 2, 2010: Photo Album: Coney Island Boardwalk, New Year’s Day 2010

December 20, 2009: Coney Island Photo of the Day: First Snow on the Cyclone

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“You gotta fight for your right to Save Coney. A real landmark but they’re trying to make it phony,” raps Coney Island hip-hop artist AMO1. The anthem was written for the group Save Coney Island.

What makes this special is AMO1’s Coney roots. “They’re tryin’ to tear my land down…tryin’ to destroy a legend,” he says. “Don’t let it get destroyed by Thor Equities. Keep every acre of land for amusements.” The Cyclone roller coaster, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, the freak show, and cotton candy on kids’ faces get a mention in the vid. AMO1 pays tribute to the go karts, which were bulldozed by real estate speculator Thor Equities in 2007.

The first time you ever drove was at the go kart races
Get hungry and go to Nathans
Most been here their whole life cause it’s amazing
Let’s stop them from tearing it down to the pavement
Cause this is all we got for the youth so let’s save it.

If there was ever a time to fight for your right to Save Coney, it’s now or never. The City Council’s Land Use Committee is expected to vote on the rezoning plan this week. Perhaps even as early as tomorrow morning! The full Council vote is scheduled for July 29. In a last ditch effort to save the People’s Playground, Save Coney Island is asking New Yorkers to call their elected officials and request changes to the City’s plan.

7/20 UPDATE: we just received an urgent email from Save Coney Island that The Land Use Committee met today and recessed without making any recommendations. The Zoning and Land Use Committees are now scheduled to vote tomorrow, Tuesday the 21st, on revisions to the Coney Island rezoning plan:

WE NEED YOU TO ATTEND AND MAKE OUR PRESENCE FELT!
When: 10:30 am
Where: City Hall Chambers.
PLEASE, GET THERE EARLY TO GET THROUGH SECURITY.

Bring a sign! The last time, they gave us a hard time about anything bigger than 8.5 x 11. You can download one no bigger than that here(pdf).

The vote by the Land Use Committee is the last chance for the plan to be fixed. If council members choose to vote on the plan without significant amendments dealing with the amusement area, we will know that they ignored your calls and that they are indifferent to the destruction of the “People’s Playground”. The vote by the entire City Council is scheduled for July 29th.

Keep making phone calls! Call Quinn, Recchia, and your council member. Tell them that Coney Island amusements are a city-wide issue, and that the plan must be fixed. All the info you need to make a call is here. Call now!

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