Coney Island 1904
It was the last year Coney Island was an actual island — an isolated fantasy world. All three great amusement parks, Luna Park and Steeplechase and Dreamland, and the racetracks were still open. And the Atlantic Yacht Club, which had the Vanderbilts and Whitneys as members.
— Charles Denson: Coney Island Lost and Found
What about Coney Island’s today and its potential to once again be a world class heritage travel destination?
Some successes and failures are discussed below.
The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission is scheduled to vote today (January 11, 2011) to designate landmark status for the Child’s Restaurant Building in Coney Island. Located on Surf Avenue and West 12th Street, the 1917 structure is owned and operated by Coney Island USA as a non-profit arts center.
Child’s will join other newly landmarked Coney Island buildings like the Shore Theater. The Shore, a neo-Renaissance Revival, originally known as the Coney Island Theater, was built between 1924 and 1925. Beginning in the mid-1960s, the theater began housing musical revues and burlesque. A few years later, following a brief experimentation with adult film, it catered to bingo players. Today, at seven stories high, the vacant building is one of the tallest in the area.
The other Child’s Restaurant (located on the Boardwalk) as well as the Cyclone, the Parachute Jump, and the Wonder Wheel are also official NYC landmarks.
The Department of Buildings last week cited Central Amusement International — Coney Island’s amusement operators — for improperly demolishing the “Shoot the Freak” booth on the Boardwalk late last year. The beloved paintball attraction was destroyed without a permit on December 22, 2010.
Central Amusement has a 10-year-lease to fulfill the city’s vision of a revitalized Coney Island, but can’t move forward until eight additional businesses are legally evicted. A pending court case brought by all the businesses has slowed down that process.
Would you like to see Coney Island remain more or less as it is? Or would you like to see it updated for the 21st century? Please comment. If you need help making up your mind, there is more detailed information on Coney Island planning at:
Photographs by Lisa Reynolds Wolfe.
If you love heritage travel and you enjoyed this post, subscribe now by e-mail or RSS to make sure that you don’t miss out in the future.