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Mama Burger Paul's Daughter

Wet paint! Mama and Papa Burger on the roof of Paul’s Daughter on the Coney Island Boardwalk

Happy news for Memorial Day Weekend! Mama Burger is back on her feet and has been reunited with Papa Burger on the roof of Coney Boardwalk eatery Paul’s Daughter! The lovingly restored and freshly painted figures were seen in close proximity the other day ahead of being returned to their regular spots at either end of the rooftop.

While Papa Burger, an A & W Root Beer figure from the 1960s, has steadily anchored the western side of the building’s roof, Mama Burger had been flat on her back since Superstorm Sandy. The eight-foot-tall fiberglass figure got knocked over — at first she was thought to be missing— and her hamburger and beer mug blew away.

What else is new this season at Paul’s Daughter? The popular clam bar now serves oysters as well and has a roomy new outdoor seating area. The best lobster roll in Coney Island – delectable chunks of Maine lobster packed into a toasted bun – is being served again starting this weekend. Since the Mama Burger figure never got her lost burger back, maybe she should hold a lobster roll instead?

Paul’s Daughter is Tina Georgoulakos, whose father Paul aka “The Chief” co-founded the restaurant formerly known as Gregory & Paul’s in 1962 and still supervises its clam bar. The renovated building was originally one of hot dog inventor Charles Feltman’s restaurants and remains a masterpiece of vernacular signage.

Here’s Coney historian Charles Denson lunching on a lobster roll at Paul’s Daughter…

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Boardwalk under construction

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

This Sunday, May 15, is the 93rd anniversary of the official opening of Coney Island’s Riegelmann Boardwalk. Last week, Coney poet Michael Schwartz crooned a few lines from “Under the Boardwalk” and recited poetry as part of his testimony before the City Council’s Land Use Committee. He was among about 15 people who took time out from their work day to speak at City Hall in favor of Councilman Mark Treyger’s resolution that the Landmarks Preservation Commission designate the Boardwalk a scenic landmark.

The LPC had previously said no, but is now said to be reconsidering. You may want to phone, email or write letters of encouragement to Meenakshi Srinivasan, Commissioner of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Contact information is here. Use the hashtag #LandmarkTheBoardwalk when you post on social media.

Schwartz’s eloquent testimony, printed in full below, begins with an excerpt of his poem, “The Under-Talker,” from a book-in-progress of poems, short stories and monologues set in Coney Island and called The Invisible Exhibitionist and other Attractions.

What will happen to us now that they took away under the boardwalk?
We won’t be falling in love
under the boardwalk…
boardwalk.
I heard that pushing the sand right up under the boards like that is what causes them to erode and crack.
I wish we could have our down by the sea on a blanket with my baby under the boardwalk back.
Did you hear that when they filled it in Homeless John the Under-Talker was buried alive?
Under the boardwalk.
Yesterday I tripped on a broken board and fell on my ear
and I swear while I was there
I could still hear him talk.
If you listen closely…
you can still hear him talk.

First they came for under the boardwalk… Then they came for the boardwalk. It started already. Part of the boardwalk’s already been paved over, even though that’s not what the people wanted. And in the middle of the night before it would have been landmarked, they bulldozed our beloved original Thunderbolt. And they came under darkness in the middle of the night and destroyed our beloved West 8th Street bridge to the boardwalk that protected us from traffic, because we didn’t have the power to protect it. If we don’t have the power to protect our world famous beloved boardwalk that connects neighborhoods, businesses, and people, one day we will wake up and it won’t be there, at least not as we know it. Where’s the boardwalk? Oh my God, it’s a sidewalk. Don’t we have enough sidewalks?

Boardwalk Not Sidewalk

Boardwalk Not Sidewalk/No Concrete. Sign on Building Facing Boardwalk East of Ocean Parkway in Brighton Beach. Photo © Bruce Handy

The historic beloved boardwalk is one of the last walkways in our world that is an oasis from the concrete that hardens our souls and hammers our joints. Also, concrete will not absorb water or heat the way wood does. In this apocalyptic time of hurricanes and floods, the walkway by the water is wood for practical as well as aesthetic reasons. Coney Island is called the people’s park because it’s different than those other sanitized corporatized parks. When Coney becomes corporatized, such as when the Republican nominee’s father Fred destroyed Steeplechase, they demolish more than just the people’s parks, they break the people’s hearts.

We’ve seen too many New York treasures wiped out by corporate greed, little by little turning the greatest city in the world into just another impersonal unaffordable clone of Anymall, USA. We lost the original Penn Station, the 8th wonder of the world, because it wasn’t landmarked. We saved Grand Central Station because it was landmarked. If we don’t landmark the boardwalk, we’ll lose it. We’ll lose ourselves.

© Michael Schwartz

Truck on Coney Island Boardwalk

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

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The 2015 edition of photographer and film editor Jim McDonnell’s annual “Coney Island Dancing” video was released over the weekend. Miss Coney Island and her dancing cats, who are still open for business at 25 cents a dance, start the show! Its the fifth year in a row that Jim has compiled his fabulous footage of Boardwalk dancers extraordinaire. “Dancing and music is an integral part of Coney Island,” he says. “This year’s soundtrack is ‘I Know You Got Soul’ by Bobby Byrd (James Brown’s legendary sideman) Enjoy!”

Related posts on ATZ…

April 6, 2014: Photo of the Day: Miss Coney Island’s Dancing Cat

January 24, 2012: Dance Video: Ringmasters Crew in Coney Island

September 6, 2011: Video: Coney Island Dancing 2011 by Jim McDonnell

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

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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

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Easter Bunny Best on the Boardwalk. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita

Easter Sunday Best at Paul's Daughter on the Boardwalk. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita

Happy Easter and Happy Passover from Coney Island! While Palm Sunday is Coney Island’s season opener, it’s Easter that draws the crowds. If the weather is favorable, as we expect this Sunday–“Mostly sunny and breezy. Highs in the upper 50s,” according to the National Weather Service–the day can be as busy for the amusement ride and game operators as the Fourth of July.

In 2010, Easter was on April 4th and temps were in the 70s when we snapped these photos of New Yorkers in their Sunday best. The Boardwalk was a People’s Parade on Easter Sunday. Lines were long at ticket booths and rides were jam packed from noon till nearly midnight!

Easter Sunday, Coney Island

Easter Toddler at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

While the kids are off from New York City schools through April 12, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and Luna Park are open daily for Spring Break, weather permitting. The parks open at 12 noon. Coney Island’s roller coasters–the Cyclone and the Thunderbolt– will be up and running this weekend. Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park has four new family rides, including a Mangels’ Whip inspired Speedway and the retro Scrambler.

Keep an eye out for “Easter fresh” outfits, including bunny headgear!

Easter Brunch at Paul's Daughter on the Boardwalk. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita

Easter Brunch at Paul's Daughter on the Boardwalk. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

East in Coney Island

Easter at Steve’s Grill House on the Boardwalk. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita

Bunny Baby in Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Bunny Baby in Coney Island. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita

Steeplechase Pier on Easter Sunday

Steeplechase Pier on Easter Sunday. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita

Steeplechase Pier on Easter Sunday

Steeplechase Pier on Easter Sunday. April 4, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita

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Photo © John Huntington

Coney Island at the start of a blizzard, January 26, 2015. Photo © John Huntington

When Brooklyn photographer John Huntington took the subway to Coney Island at the start of the “Blizzard of 2015,” it was just before dusk and he had a subway car all to himself. He saw a few people heading home along Surf Avenue and a solitary figure seated on a bench looking out at the ocean. On the boardwalk, the patterns of freshly fallen snow on the slats are a lovely sight to see and to photograph, and one that will soon disappear if the Parks Department is allowed to continue replacing the wooden boards with concrete and plastic. The hibernating amusement parks and attractions provide a colorful backdrop for this storm chaser’s photos.

Coney Island at the start of a blizzard,

Coney Island at the start of a blizzard, January 26, 2015. Photo © John Huntington

“Storm chasing requires knowledge of weather, mobility, and patience. I shoot any storm I can here in New York City, and in the spring I often chase across the great plains and beyond,” says the intro to a page with storm photos on Huntington’s blog. Among his photos are images of tornadoes in Kansas and Texas, and Coney Island and the Jersey Shore after Hurricane Sandy.

Photo © John Huntington

Coney Island at the start of a blizzard, January 26, 2015. Photo © John Huntington

“I’ve been chasing probably since the 80’s–my first chase was Hurricane Gloria,” Huntington told ATZ. The photographer hoped to go back to Coney on Tuesday. “I won’t be able to get out there tomorrow with no subway. This is apparently the first time they EVER shut the trains down for a snow storm,” he said. According to a popular post last night on the blog Second Avenue Sagas, the closing of the subway for a blizzard was ironic because it was built in response to people not being able to get around during the Blizzard of 1888.

Coney Island at the start of a blizzard

Coney Island at the start of a blizzard, January 26, 2015. Photo © John Huntington

Coney Island’s Parachute Jump, also known as Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower, is lit nightly from dusk until midnight or later. Its 8,000 LEDs, which are said to be visible from Mars and are definitely visible on the Coney Island Cam, remained a beacon during the storm.

Coney Island at the start of a blizzard

Coney Island at the start of a blizzard, January 26, 2015. Photo © John Huntington

Nathan’s, which usually closes at 1 am, was one of the few places open on Monday evening. “I actually first told them trains were shutting down,” tweeted Huntington. “Kid behind the counter said he might sleep there and work tomorrow.”

How much snow did he predict for Coney? Some forecasters had begun revising projected snow totals downward.

“I won’t even guess :-) NWS is sticking to 18″ +.”

Coney Island at the start of a blizzard

Coney Island at the start of a blizzard, January 26, 2015. Photo © John Huntington

Related posts on ATZ…

December 29, 2014: Parachute Jump ‘Ball Drop,’ Sideshow & Fireworks at Coney Island on New Year’s Eve

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

March 10, 2014: High Hopes for Coney Island’s New Thunderbolt Coaster

November 28, 2013: Photo Album: Parachute Jump Lights Way to Year-Round Coney Island

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Snowy Cyclone

Snowy Cyclone. January 24, 2015. Photo © Bruce Handy

In this striking photo of Saturday morning’s snowfall by Coney Island resident Bruce Handy, the Cyclone is transformed into veritable “Russian Mountains,” as the world’s first roller coasters were called. The Beach and Boardwalk are a Winter Wonderland. It was a perfect day for Brooklyn’s Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, who brought their homemade sleds to Coney Island for the annual Klondike Derby. More snow is predicted for Monday and Tuesday.

Snowy Parachute Jump

Snowy Parachute Jump. January 24, 2015. Photo © Bruce Handy

Related posts on ATZ...

April 20, 2013: Photo of the Day: Moon Viewing in Coney Island by Bruce Handy

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

February 26, 2010: Photo of the Day: Snow Mermaid on Coney Island Beach

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

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