coney island

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The least we can do in these times of lean posting:

Just how cold is the axe hanging over Coney Island? [Amusing the Zillion]

Plus: Reminder about the Ruby’s petition and the Nov. 6 rally!

Tottenville: The Town the Oyster Built [Tottenville Historical Society]

Woman discovers WWII explosive in Bronx home [NY1]

Take your kids — or hell, just yourself! — to the four boroughs you don’t live in. [ToNY, h/t Bronx Mama]

NY Art Book Fair at PS1 this weekend [The Q Note]

Houdini House on 113th St. Did you know Halloween was the 86th anniversary of his death? [What about the Plastic Animals?]

Photo credit: Me, for once. The view from my little bro’s new digs in Bushwick, a rooftop the size of a football field.

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Anyone who’s ever had the good fortune to dance the night away to Ruby’s jukebox after a day at the beach will be saddened to learn — if they haven’t already heard — that Thor Equities has given the beloved boardwalk dive just two weeks to vacate. This isn’t the first time Ruby’s has had Thor’s gun to her head: a couple winters ago ugly Spaces for Lease signs went up on the storefront, though the bar was eventually able to buy some time.

The Coney Island blog Amusing the Zillion alerts readers to a November 6 rally to save Ruby’s and the other establishments facing eviction. There’s also a link there to an electronic petition to Bloomberg. As Jeremiah put it yesterday: “What’s to come? Upscale restaurants and middle-brow chains, the Xeroxed world we’re all subjected to, inured to, numbed to–and powerless to stop. Between Thor’s demolitions and Zamperla’s evictions, Coney Island is going to look like a massive car-wreck victim after multiple plastic surgeries. We won’t recognize her.” Among new businesses rumored to be circling like vultures: Shake Shack. Blech. Can anyone say Fauxny Island?

Ruby’s photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr and Amusing the Zillion.


As ususal, I’m spending my Friday below 14th Street in Manhattan. Hooray for the Internets!

Kevin Walsh heads out to Brighton Beach and Coney Island [Forgotten NY]

And we hear rumors that the new amusement park will be named after an old one [Amusing the Zillion]

Willing to brave the cold? Take a self-guided graffiti tour of Bushwick and East Williamsburg [offManhattan]

Late link to photos of a late lunch with Pale Male [Urban Hawks]

Sunday lecture: Kerouac in Queens [NYC Parks & Rec]

Worst neighborhood name in New York history? Linoleumville, Staten Island, though some commentators would vote for Flushing instead. [Ephemeral New York]

And finally: Video montage of burned-out Bronx cityscapes in the 70s and 80s [Welcome to Melrose; h/t BoogieDowner]

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We’ve been big fans of‘s documentary series The City Concealed since its inception. (If I’m not mistaken, we’ve featured every one of its episodes on this site, and I think I’m the one who suggested the old Fulton Ferry Hotel to them as a possible site to explore!) We’re excited, then, to see another series of documentary shorts from the same production team — this one focusing on New York people, its hidden workers, rather than on its hidden places.

The debut episode of the new series, New York on the Clock, profiles Gerry Menditto, who’s overseen operations on the Cyclone at Coney Island since 1975:


New York on the Clock: Coney Island Cyclone Operator from on Vimeo.

The producers had this to say during a Q&A on the new series:

Q. What challenges did you face in filming the premiere episode in Coney Island?

Daniel Ross: The most challenging part of filming at the
Cyclone is deciding what not to film. We had four 32GB memory cards,
which can hold about 2 hours of HD video. We spent an hour interviewing
Jerry, and then moved on to shooting B roll. There’s just an endless
amount of visually exciting subjects to shoot in and around Coney
Island. We kept having to remind ourselves of what shots took priority
because it’s so easy to get excited and distracted by all the weird

We can only hope some of the weirdness remains once developers are through with it.

A special shout out to the episode’s associate producer, Susannah Herbert, one of our former students from Writing New York!

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marialevitskythunderbolt.jpgVia WFMU’s Beware of the Blog: One of my favorite freeform DJs, Maria, has a show of architectural photos opening tonight in Manhattan:

Deborah Berke & Partners Architects LLP

Maria Levitsky
Building Photographs

Opening Thursday May 21, 6:30-8:30pm
220 5th Avenue, 7th floor
New York, NY
212 229 9211

Open all summer 2009 by appointment

In her artist’s statement she relates her craft, in a way, to the work of historic preservation:

It is this evidence of disappearance that I desire to record in my
photographs. I look to create images that incite the imagination to ask
the question what could have happened here? and who left these traces?
The photograph itself becomes a trace as the scene continues to change
in time, as many of the locations are demolished or redesigned.

I’d like to think that she conceptualizes recorded sound in similar ways. Among other audio treasures, Maria introduced me to the bass player Henri Texier: I remember very clearly the first time I heard him on her show. (It was one of those moments you drop what you’re doing and call the station to see what’s playing.) I’ll forever be grateful — and can’t wait to see what visual treasures she’s captured in her exhibit. If you want to listen to her radio shows online, click here.

The 2001 photo shown above, left, is of the now-demolished Thunderbolt roller coaster at Coney Island. At the website linked you’ll find historical nuggets like this: “In the “American Experience”
documentary Coney
Island: A Documentary Film
, Mae Timpano described
her years living under and working at the Thunderbolt, ‘We used to find teeth in the yard. We used to find wigs, glasses, guns. Everything we found in the yard … nobody came back for them, though.'”

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Via the awesome Brooklyn blog Gowanus Lounge, a photo of Coney Island from the mid-20c.

It shows the Steeplechase Pavilion that was murdered by Fred Trump and
to its right the Thunderbolt roller coaster, which was slaughtered by
Rudolph Giuliani. The date of the photo is unclear, but we would place
it in the 40s or 50s. Steeplechase was demolished in 1964, and Keyspan
Park and a parking lot now stands in its place. The Thunderbolt lot is
a huge vacant city block over run with weeds.

Meanwhile, the Municipal Art Society of New York has launched an “Imagine Coney Island” website to promote creative redesign efforts for the park. From their year-end fund-raising letter:

MAS has collected more than 200 new ideas – from the outlandish to the
inspiring: a Ferris wheel powered by the waves off Coney Island’s
; a rebuilt Elephant Hotel; an interactive “Dig a Hole to
: “Keep Coney Island subversive, quasi-outlaw, quirky,
individual and raffish
” wrote one participant.

We’ve also convened an international team of designers, entertainment
professionals and economists to develop new ideas for rides, activities, events
and big ideas for summer 2009 and beyond.

For all other things Coney Island, bad news and good, visit Coney Island USA’s website.

Updated with info from the comments section:

Thanks to Saving Coney Coalition for the following, left as a comment:

ImagineConey Public Meeting January 14th, 2009

Now, it is critical that we demonstrate to the decision-makers that
New Yorkers passionately believe that Coney Island should become a
great amusement and entertainment destination once again. So please
join us on January 14 at 6.30 pm, when the MAS will be participating in
a public meeting in Coney Island at Our Lady of Solace Church, 1717 Mermaid Ave, Brooklyn. Seating is limited and reservations are encouraged. RSVP online now.

Click here for a map.

MAS will present a selection of the ideas contributed as well the
economic and design work conducted by the charrette team. More details here.

On Jan 1 the Save Coney Coalition held a New Year’s Day Rally on the Boardwalk.

Downloadable protest art here.

Press coverage here.


Email Mayor Michael Bloomberg or phone 311 (1-
212-NEWYORK outside of the city) and leave a “Comment for the Mayor”

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