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Joe Sitt's Demolition Crew Punched Holes in the Bank of Coney Island's south wall. October 18, 2010.  Photo © Eric Kowalsky

Joe Sitt's Demolition Crew Punched Holes in the Bank of Coney Island's south wall. October 18, 2010. Photo © Eric Kowalsky

On Monday at 2 pm, “Mayor” Dick Zigun sounded the alarm on the Coney Island Message Board: “They have just started to punch holes in the Bank of Coney Island building’s south wall, facing the Bowery. The holes are being punched out from the inside via drills and jack hammers. Earlier today they erected scaffolding along the north and east facades.”

Bank of Coney Island Demolition. October 18, 2010.  Photo © Eric Kowalsky

Bank of Coney Island Demolition October 18, 2010. Photo © Eric Kowalsky

Coney Island photographers Eric Kowalsky and Bruce Handy have been documenting the demolition for the past two days. They’re made of strong stuff. We’ve put off posting the images because it was painful to see this 87-year-old building having holes– first two and three, and now eleven– punched through its walls. We know a building is not a human being, but this is torture. The building looks as if it faced a firing squad and is a dead man standing.

Bank of Coney Island Demolition. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Bank of Coney Island Demolition. October 18, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

A poster on the Coney Island board claims that the holes are for shoring up the upper part of brick wall while they build the scaffolding from the inside, so as not to disturb what’s left of the fire-damaged arcade next door. But the bank building was built to last and isn’t going to come down easily. On the first and second day of Joe Sitt’s 40 Days of Demolition, the worst is yet to come.

ATZ promised to live-tweet the demo to keep Sitt’s ongoing desecration of Coney Island in the public eye. But we have no idea how we’re going to weather the ordeal if the first two holes in a wall look like wounds to us. If we could have picked one building to save, the Bank of Coney Island would have been the one. For more info, read “A Rare Peek Inside Endangered Old Bank of Coney Island,” (ATZ, October 9, 2009).

Bank of Coney Island Demolition. October 19, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

Bank of Coney Island Demolition. October 19, 2010. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

October 14, 2010: Photo of the Day: The Bank of Coney Island, Now & Then

October 8, 2010: 40 Day Demolition of Historic Coney Island Buildings Set to Begin

April 21, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: Tattered Tents, Deathwatch for Historic Buildings

October 9, 2009: A Rare Peek Inside Endangered Old Bank of Coney Island

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Bank of Coney Island with Demolition Scaffolding. October 13, 2010. Photo © Eric Kowalsky

Doomed Bank of Coney Island with Demolition Scaffolding. October 13, 2010. Photo © Eric Kowalsky

On Wednesday, demolition scaffolding was erected around Thor Equities-owned Bank of Coney Island on 12th Street at Surf Avenue. In Eric Kowalsky’s stunning photo, the long, black boards resemble a coffin for the doomed bank. A demolition permit has been issued and the work is expected to be finished within 40 days.

ATZ has already spent–some would say wasted–considerable time advocating for the preservation of this building. “A Rare Peek Inside Endangered Old Bank of Coney Island” was posted over a year ago on October 9, 2009. Nothing whatsoever has changed since then. A few weeks ago, Save Coney Island’s splendid rendering of the building re-imagined as the “Banker’s Ballroom” was a hit in the blogosphere. But it was a quixotic effort because real estate speculator Joe Sitt never gave it the time of day. Shame on Thor Equities for not even responding to the written pleas of individuals and organizations to re-purpose the building or at least save the facade. Shame on the City of New York for sacrificing the building by rezoning the parcel for a 30-story high rise in July 2009.

In the lovely archival photo below sent to us by historian Charles Denson, the Bank of Coney Island is a branch of Banker’s Trust (1928-1950). The bank was later sold to Manufacturer’s Hanover. In December 1987, the branch closed and the property was offered for sale, with a minimum acceptable bid of $225,000, all cash. The building has remained vacant since real estate speculator Joe Sitt bought the Bank of Coney Island building in 2005 for $3 million.

Bank of Coney Island. Photo © Charles Denson Archive

Bank of Coney Island. Photo © Charles Denson Archive

Related posts on ATZ…

October 8, 2010: 40 Day Demolition of Historic Coney Island Buildings Set to Begin

March 3, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: What Stillwell Looked Like Before Joe Sitt

October 9, 2009: A Rare Peek Inside Endangered Old Bank of Coney Island

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