The Parade Must Go On
Six months ago, Superstorm Sandy left Coney Island’s annual Mermaid Parade high and dry. Now, parade participants are hoping their new Kickstarter campaign will help them get back on their flippers.When Sandy struck Coney Island last October, it completely flooded the Mermaid Parade’s headquarters on Surf Avenue. With thousands of dollars of Read More
on the waterfront
While the Bloomberg administration has largely come in for praise for its Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, questions remain over whether City Hall made things worse by encouraging waterfront development. The Independent Budget Office certainly believes so in a critical analysis it has issued looking at the seemingly hypocritical policy initiatives Mayor Bloomberg had championed.
On the one hand, the city had taken pains to reduce its carbon footprint as it acknowledges the dangers posed by rising sea levels and superstorms. At the same time, the administration continues to encourage new residential and commercial projects in the very areas it is wringing its hands over.
We have all had that moment, post-Sandy, where the breadth of the storm’s damage has finally sunk in. For New Yorkers for Parks, that moment came on Nov. 9, when the group was asked by the Coney Island Development Corporation to do a survey of the neighborhood’s public spaces. What its staff found shocked them.
“The open spaces of Coney Island felt forlorn and forgotten when the staff of New Yorkers for Parks arrived,” wrote the group in an account on its site. “Scenes were eerie as we began our assessment. The neighborhood seemed frozen in a moment of shock. Formerly flooded cars were parked hopelessly with open hoods. Residents waited on corners below broken traffic lights, asking when food would arrive. Some lingered by waterlogged couches, chairs and dining room sets waiting for garbage pickup. Boxes of rotted bananas, once slated for delivery, stretched half a block near the Haber Houses. There was little moving, other than the occasional utility truck or emergency vehicle. The next day, several hundred volunteers would arrive, eager to help. But that Friday provided a tragic post-Sandy snapshot.”
Peer under the tent flap of our splendid new civic order, and you’re guaranteed to see a disturbing sight: all the same failed policies of the past, lovingly preserved in formaldehyde.
That’s what I got from Amy Nicholson’s thoroughly enjoyable, thoroughly enraging new documentary, Zipper: Coney Island’s Last Wild Ride, which won a special jury prize last week at DOC NYC, New York’s Documentary Film Festival and is currently making the festival rounds. Ms. Nicholson was generous enough to open her film with a quote from me about the destruction of the old Coney, though I have no other association with the production.
What she and I do share is a deep resentment over what has been done to this iconic New York neighborhood under the guise of “improving” it.
Only a few days after Sandy terrorized the Eastern Coast and before droves of generous volunteers began their efforts to rebuild the seaboard, the damage done by the hurricane was visible against the landscapes of the region.
Coney Island, in particular, was littered with refuse from the Atlantic: the remnants of people’s homes, lives and Read More
Chasing hurricanes is hard work. Luckily, on Cropsey Avenue, just one block south of the Shore Parkway, sits Parkview Diner. It’s one of those 1950s throwbacks, all neon and chrome, that exist across this city, serving up hearty dishes—rain or shine. The weather was not an insignificant detail to Gus, the owner, as he took orders for delivery over the phone. Because today, The Parkview, was one of the only diners still taking orders anywhere inside Coney Island, Zone A –the evacuation zone.
Sodom by the Sea
Called “the People’s Playground,” Coney Island is perhaps the most popular piece of New York City’s entertainment puzzle, Times Square and the Bowery having been thoroughly scrubbed of any excitement the past few decades. Chic and refined it’s not—at least not yet—but in terms of crowds, ice cream cones, corn dogs and cheap(ish) amusements, this corner of the city is the one calling.
The season may be over, but the enthusiams persists.
Today, the city’s Economic Development Corporation announced an RFP seeking the development and operation of new amusement rides, game booths and other entertainment attractions at a vacant site at the heart of the Coney’s amusement hub.
Sodom by the Sea
Mayor Michael Bloomberg took a stroll down the boardwalk this afternoon to the New York City Aquarium in Coney Island, where he announced that new city and private funds would help pave the way for an expanded aquarium, complete with a fancy new shark tank.
“From the start, the exciting expansion and renovation of the New York Aquarium has been a vital part of our efforts to revive Coney Island,” Mayor Bloomberg said. “The project is going to make the Aquarium much more visible and visually exciting to Coney Island’s thousands of visitors—from those strolling the Boardwalk to others visiting the Aquarium itself.”
After years of opposition, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has decided to roll the dice on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s dream of opening a casino in New York City. There is just one house rule, according to the Daily New‘s Albany bureau chief Ken Lovett: not in my backyard. (He’s just as parochial as his constituents!)
The locations Silver is open to a casino include Coney Island—where Borough President Marty Markowitz desperately wants one—the new Mets megamall at Willets Point and the so-far-failed plans for one at Aqueduct. But proposals like Times Square and at a rejiggered Javits Center are definitely out.
For 22 years, the affordable non-profit housing organization Astella Development Corporation has been sponsoring the annual Sand Castle Contest out on Coney Island. Flying a little under the radar–at least compared to Coney’s other summer contest–this year had a big boost in publicity thanks to actor Vincent D’onofrio, who channeled his newly-refreshed mind elsewhere…like building one of the most elaborate sand sculpture with his family.
This weekend, Mr. D’onofrio and his family–eight members total, including wife Carin van der Donk and their three children, Leila, Elias, and Luka –took home first place for “mixed category” in Coney Island’s Sand Sculpture contest, which was co-sponsored by Astella and the WCS/NY Aquarium.