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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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Steeplechase Pier Reconstruction

Steeplechase Pier Reconstruction, Coney Island. April 22, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

While Coney Island’s Cyclone, Wonder Wheel and other amusement rides are awhirl on weekends and the Boardwalk eateries and shops are open daily– weather permitting– construction continues on the storm-damaged pier, the new Steeplechase Plaza and new buildings on Surf Avenue. Renovations are also underway at the New York Aquarium, Coney Island USA and Nathan’s Surf Avenue location, all of which expect to reopen by Memorial Day Weekend.

The post-Sandy reconstruction of Steeplechase Pier is back up to speed after a construction barge sank on April 13. Last week, sources told ATZ that the damaged barge had been repaired. This type of barge has four legs (called spud poles) which telescope for mooring and one of the spuds had cracked, which caused the barge to submerge.

“The entire Steeplechase Pier is being reconstructed. We expect to complete construction by July 4,” the Parks Department said in an email in March. According to an application with the DEP, “Work will include the removal and replacement of wood decking on the main walkway, installation of recycled plastic lumber on the wings on new reinforced concrete joists, and installation of new light poles, water line, benches, platforms and shade structures.”

B&B Carousell Pavilion

Construction underway on pavilion for B&B Carousell in Steeplechase Plaza, Coney Island. April 22, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

On Monday, while workers continued construction of the pavilion that will be the home of Coney’s antique B&B Carousell, an Atlas Van Lines truck arrived from Ohio with the restored ride including 49 of its 50 hand-carved wooden horses. The first restored horse had been put on display by the NYCEDC at the Coney Island History Project last May and named “Ravishing Ruby.” Coney’s last hand-carved carousel was saved from auction in 2005 when the City purchased the ride for $1.8 million. The B&B is currently being assembled in its new pavilion in Steeplechase Plaza and is expected to open on Memorial Day Weekend.

Temporary lights on the Boardwalk

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

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. These portable trailer-mounted lighting units were brought to the amusement area more than a month ago.

Meanwhile on the north side of Surf Avenue, construction is underway on a building for Applebee’s, among the first of several new franchises and chains coming to Coney Island’s main drag. Crews are working seven days a week with a target opening date in mid-June.

Applebee's Under Construction in Coney Island

Applebee’s Under Construction on the North side of Surf Ave, Coney Island. April 7, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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

April 14, 2013: Photo Update: Sunken Barge at Steeplechase Pier in Coney Island

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

January 24, 2013: Occupy Sandy’s New Warehouse in Coney Island Landmark

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Luna Park Boardwalk Gate

Luna Park Boardwalk Gate Under Construction. March 10, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

On Sunday afternoon, Coney Island photographer Bruce Handy captured this gorgeous image of the last pinwheel and crescent moon of Luna Park’s new Boardwalk gate being lifted into place. The gate takes its inspiration from the one on Surf Avenue, which was built three years ago and pays homage to the original Luna Park’s 1903 gate. The smaller, more delicate boardwalk entryway boasts the additional flourish of golden pennants and promises a brighter, more dazzling summer in Coney Island.

Do you notice anything else different in the photo below?

Luna Park Boardwalk Gate

Luna Park Boardwalk Gate Under Construction. March 10, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

The cars will be put back up on Deno’s Wonder Wheel in plenty of time for March 24th’s Opening Day — the cars are taken down during the off-season for maintenance. What’s different in the photo is the appearance of the Astro Tower. Earlier this month, the cab was removed from the Tower, which has been standing but not operating since 2008. Word on the Boardwalk is the former ride will be painted and illuminated. Ever since Luna Park was built on the Astroland site in April 2010, there’s been talk of Zamperla re-purposing the Tower as signage or possibly restoring it as a ride. Since nothing was done, the 270-foot observation tower got rusty and began to look like a neglected orphan amid the glittering new rides on the skyline. Last September, after the Tower was relit for the first time since Astroland closed, Luna Park confirmed via their Facebook page that it “will provide Coney Island with a spectacular, night-time extravaganza,” but will not be reactivated as a ride.

UPDATE 3:00 pm

We’d heard rumors that the Astro Tower’s cab, also known as “The Bagel in Sky,” had been damaged by Sandy. Luna Park just emailed us the following update: “Coney Island’s Astrotower suffered structural damage during Super Storm Sandy. The restoration process of the Tower is underway, with affected parts, including the gondola, having been removed to ensure its stability and safety. Part of the tower’s rehabilitation will include a new, energy-efficient lighting package that will be programmable to match other lighting installations at Luna Park.”

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September 28, 2012: Astrotower Lit for 1st Time Since Astroland Closed in 2008

July 8, 2012: Video of the Day: Coney Island Lights by Jim McDonnell

May 23, 2010: Luna Park Coney Island’s Pinwheel & Moon Gate Takes Shape!

May 29, 2009: Astroland Star from Coney Island’s Space-Age Theme Park Donated to the Smithsonian

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