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Archive for September, 2010

Saved? Surf Hotel's Vintage Signage. September 24, 2010.  Photo © Anonymouse-deux via Amusing the Zillion

Saved? Surf Hotel's Original Hand-Painted Glass Signage. September 24, 2010. Photo © Anonymouse-deux via Amusing the Zillion

In an interview with NY1 in May, Thor Equities CEO Joe Sitt talked about his redevelopment plans for Coney Island and the Surf Avenue buildings he plans to raze: “Every one of these buildings is just horrible, rundown relics with nothing exciting about them. I hate to say it, but the great buildings of Coney Island disappeared 80 years ago,” said Sitt.

What caught our eye in this four-month-old news story was not Sitt’s mischaracterization of the historic properties (please take a look at what the Henderson Building and Stillwell looked like before Sitt bought and blighted them), but what the real estate speculator had to say about the now endangered signs. According to NY1, “Sitt says he’ll re-use the vintage signs in a more modern setting.”

Faber's Fascination Sign Stripped of its Letters. Photo © Anonymouse-deux via Amusing the Zillion

The Morning After Faber's Fascination Sign Was Stripped of its Letters. Photo © Anonymouse-deux via Amusing the Zillion

Really? We hate to say it, but if Sitt is planning to re-use any signs, he’d better hurry up and save some. It’s already too late for Faber’s. As ATZ reported earlier this month, the light bulbs and letters of the fabulous 60-year-old Faber’s Fascination and Sportland signs were removed by the arcade’s most recent operator and offered for sale. The cannibalized metal signs remain on the facade because they couldn’t be removed before the tenant had to vacate the property. You can see the Faber’s Fascination sign lit up for the last time and the letters being removed in this video by historian Charles Denson.

Last Night at Faber's Fascination. Henderson Building, Coney Island. Sept. 6, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Last Night at Faber's Fascination. Henderson Building, Coney Island. Sept. 6, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

It’s too bad Joe Sitt didn’t recognize that Faber’s signage was a valuable piece of Americana worth saving and re-purposing. In a similar situation, another New York City real estate developer, the Durst Organization, did a much better job. Durst saved the Peep-O-Rama sign from the last peep show in Times Square when they demolished the building it occupied to make way for the Bank of America Tower. Vanishing New York recently featured the story of the neon sign’s restoration and return to Times Square, where the sign lights up the visitors center. Reading the story made us think of the Faber’s sign and wish it could have enjoyed a similar fate. As we noted in a comment on the VNY post: The reference to the Times reporter asking if a case could be made for preserving Peep-O-Rama or its facade for Times Square posterity, and not receiving a reply from Landmarks, the NYHS or the Mayor’s office is telling. There seems to be very little official appreciation for signage. Basically they leave it up to the building owners to do as they please.

Lettering from Faber's Fascination. Photo © Anonymouse-deux via Amusing the Zillion

Lettering from Faber's Fascination. Photo © Anonymouse-deux via Amusing the Zillion

In last week’s “Demolition in Progress! Coney Island’s Surf Hotel in Henderson Building,” ATZ wrote: “We’re told that the original Surf Hotel sign pictured above was removed, though its fate remains unknown. Was it saved, scavenged or thrown out with the windows?” Since then ATZ has received messages and comments that the “Sign is Saved!” as in saved from demolition.

On Friday morning a tipster wrote: “I am here at the building now. I saw the Surf Hotel sign inside a door on the east side of the building resting on the floor leaning against the wall. They are back working on the west side on a ladder cleaning up under the vacant windows. One of the workers was showing me how heavy the sign is and asked it I wanted to take it. The supervisor said we should call the owner about the sign.”

No one has been working in the Henderson Building this week. Is the sign still there or has it walked away? ATZ calls upon Joe Sitt to donate the Henderson signage to the Coney Island Museum or the Coney Island History Project, where these historic artifacts can be viewed by the public.

On the Henderson Building: The original frame that held the Surf Hotel sign. September 24, 2010.  Photo © Anonymouse-deux via Amusing the Zillion

On the Henderson Building: The original frame that held the Surf Hotel sign. September 24, 2010. Photo © Anonymouse-deux via Amusing the Zillion

On the Stillwell side of the Henderson Building: Shoot out the Star’s iconic signage is endangered. It’s the work of Dreamland Artist Club founder Steve Powers, who also painted the Cyclone roller coaster seats, the Coney Island Museum steps, and the Bump Your Ass Off sign for the Eldorado. In 2003, Powers teamed up with Creative Time, the non-profit public art agency, to bring artists to Coney Island to create new signage for the stands along Jones Walk and the Bowery. The first year’s funding was $80,000. When the murals and signage debuted in June 2004, Powers told the Times: “A large percentage of them will be up forever.” Thor Equities has already removed the game signage on the Bowery side of the Henderson. We suggest that Powers and Creative Time come out to Coney and rescue their work! Don’t the signs actually belong to Creative Time? Last spring, a Dreamland Artist Club mural estimated to be worth $250,000 was destroyed when Feltman’s kitchen building was demolished by the City to make way for Luna Park.

Henderson Building: Thor Equities banner dwarfs shuttered Shoot out the Star. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

Henderson Building: Thor Equities banner dwarfs shuttered Shoot out the Star. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

Related posts on ATZ…

September 23, 2010: Demolition in Progress! Coney Island’s Surf Hotel in Henderson Building

September 9, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: Faber’s Fascination Goes Dark After 50 Years

February 25, 2010: Happy Belated Birthday to Coney Island’s William F Mangels

January 21, 2010: Demolition Alert: Dreamland Artist Club Mural on Feltman’s Bldg

November 16, 2009: Rare & Vintage: Coney Island Sideshow Banner by Dan Casola

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Skydiving in Coney Island? © 2009 Norman Blake by NB Photo Flash via flickr. All rights reserved

Skydiving in Coney Island? © 2009 Norman Blake by NB Photo Flash via flickr. All rights reserved

UPDATE…the 2015 Coney Island Kite Festival is this weekend, September 26 and 27. Go fly your kite or go take photos – FREE!

Last August in Coney Island, photographer Norman Blake photographed this airborne octopus and his skydiver friend. This weekend in Coney, you’re invited to go fly a kite at the Coney Island Kite Festival. The event will be held this Saturday and Sunday, October 2nd and 3rd, from 10 am to 5 pm on Coney Island’s beach. It’s free!

“This will be our first big official event of this year, ” said Leucio Parrella, a member of the American Kitefliers Association (AKA), who adds that the festival of 2009 was cancelled. “Our first test run of the Coney Island Kite Festival was the weekend before Thanksgiving of 2008. We had bad weather.” The good news for kitefliers and their friends is this weekend’s forecast is sunny, in the 60s.

From the official description of “The 2nd Coney Island Kite Fest” on the AKA calendar:

Fly for fun. On the beach there will be big kites such as an octopus kite. We also will have dual kites and Quad kites. Large area for free flights of kites for everyone. On the beach from Bay West 8th Street to the Steeplechase fishing pier. For additional info contact Leucio Parrella of the Kite in Motion Club at buggylou8[AT]yahoo.com or 646-912-2447

Parrella told ATZ there will be three kite fields: “Two fields for AKA members and one field for public use. AKA Dual Kites and Quad kite field is 300 x 300 square feet and starts from West Bay 8 Street, AKA Big One Line Kites is from about West Bay 10 Street (Playground Area ) to Stillwell Avenue, and Public fly field is between Stillwell Avenue and West Bay 15 Street to the Fishing Pier on the beach.”

The festival is sanctioned by the American Kitefliers Association (AKA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to sharing kiting with the world.

The American Kitefliers Association was founded in 1964 by the late Robert M. Ingraham of New Mexico. Now, with over 3,000 members, in 25 countries, we are the largest association of kiters in the world. Our purpose is to educate the public in the art, history, technology, and practice of building and flying kites – to advance the joys and values of kiting in all nations.

We are men, women, adults and children, from all walks of life. Our interests run from kitebuilding to multi-line kite competition, from miniature kites, to aerial photography and more. Some of us are in the kite trade, but we are not a trade organization.

Octopus Spotted in Coney Island © 2009 Norman Blake by NB Photo Flash via flickr. All rights reserved

Octopus Spotted in Coney Island © 2009 Norman Blake by by NB Photo Flash via flickr. All rights reserved

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Related posts on ATZ...

October 3, 2010: Photo of the Day: Kite Aerial Photography of Coney Island

September 17, 2010: On Coney Island Boardwalk, Ruby’s & Cha Cha’s Rock This Fall

September 4, 2010: Go Up, It’s Great! Coney Island’s & Deno’s Wonder Wheel

August 18, 2010: Luna Park NYC Halloween Gig for Famed Haunted House Creator

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Rest in Peace John Thomas

Rest in Peace, John Thomas. September 27 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

On Sunday, we came upon this touching tribute to Coney Islander John Thomas, who passed away on September 10. “JT” was the longtime manager of Cha Cha’s as well as its predecessor Club Atlantis. Next Saturday his ashes will be scattered in Coney Island. Rest in Peace, JT.

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