Source: Barnes & Noble

You think you know Coney Island? Think you got the whole history of America’s most famous amusement park figured out by a cursory trip to Wikipedia?

Fuggedaboudit. You don’t know jack squat.

When it comes to knowing Coney Island — I mean really, really knowing Coney Island — that is a matter best left to professionals, the most knowledgeable of which is historian and Coney Island native son Charles Denson, author of the newly-released Coney Island and Astroland and definitive expert on All Things Coney. Denson, executive director of the Coney Island History Project (CIHP), will be signing copies of his book during a book release party, June 25 from 2 to 5 p.m. at CIHP’s free public exhibition center, 3059 West 12th Street (just off the Boardwalk, at the entrance to Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park).

In Coney Island and Astroland, Denson explores the historic area’s changing architectural streetscape through more than 200 never-before-seen vintage images from the Astroland Archive, the Coney Island History Project Archive, and his personal collection. A limited number of pages from the book are available for preview on Amazon, and you can also watch a YouTube video promo. Sweet!

Signed copies of Coney Island and Astroland (128 pages, $21.99) will be available for purchase at the Coney Island History Project exhibition center and via the Coney Island History Project’s website. To learn more, email

Madison High School's "We the People" team. (Source: Councilman Nelson's office)

The following is a press release from Councilman Michael Nelson’s office:

(Brooklyn, NY) – Council Member Michael C. Nelson proudly honored the students of James Madison High School’s Law Institute with an official NYC Council proclamation at City Hall for their outstanding victory at the prestigious “We the People” Competition in New York City.  Founded by Sonia Lerner more than twenty-five years ago, the Law Institute at James Madison High School is an intensive honors program integrating various aspects of law over four years.

Keep reading about Madison High School’s

This guy doesn't have to worry about these tips. Because he's a hippie. Get a job, hippie! (Source: Wagner T. Cassimiro/Flickr)

Telling Tips is a series of articles from local experts to help you save money, make better decisions and plan for a better future.

Ah, summer. Bikinis on the beach. Daiquiris in hand. Students indoors… working. If you’re a student pulling a summer stint to pay some bills or work off those loans, keep the following tax tips in mind.

Read the tips.


Time Out New York is out with it’s annual cheap eats issue, and once again, there’s no love for the restaurants of Southern Brooklyn. This Manhattan-centric rag only mentions one restaurant that barely qualifies as being in our part of the world; Di Fara Pizza (1424 Avenue J) in Midwood. Take a look…

Read why we think hipsters – and publications like Time Out – have destroyed Di Fara’s.

Photo by Lisanne Anderson.

It’s not fair to city workers that we report only when they don’t do their jobs. So here’s a little report from Allan Rosen about the Parks Department responding to his concerns.

This tree limb fell at 10 a.m. on May 31, as I stood across the street. Luckily, unlike Memorial Day when Manhattan Beach Park was packed with picnickers, the nearest person was about 10 feet away. It surely could have killed or injured someone standing under it.

This tree was located on the same block I complained about last year. After many calls to 911 and waiting several months for a response, I finally received a word from the Parks Department the week Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Jeffrey assumed his position. They responded that the problem would be addressed in spring 2011. I waited with my fingers crossed that no one would be injured before the crews showed up.

Did they or didn’t they? They did. Sorta. Then they did again. Read to see what we’re talking about.

Photo by Robert Fernandez

You know those cool pianos that have been popping up all over the city? Well, the Marine Park Salt Marsh Nature Center is playing host to one of only two pianos in Southern Brooklyn.

The Pop-Up Piano Project is organized by Sing for Hope, a non-profit organization that mobilizes professional artists in volunteer service programs that benefit schools, hospitals and communities.

Aside from the Salt Marsh – on Avenue U and East 33rd Street – the other Southern Brooklyn piano can be found in Coney Island, on the Riegelmann Boardwalk. But if you want to play these very public pianos in private, we strongly recommend the Salt Marsh. The place was empty when we stopped by for a photo, and the piano was still covered in a tarp (we uncovered it for the photos, and someone came by to play moments later).

Wondering about the moss on the side of the thing? No, it hasn’t been there that long. Here’s the description from the Sing for Hope website:

A tribute to nature and the piano’s wooden origins. The design means to emphasize the wood of the piano and capture the environment through moss and painted leaf, liana, xylem, and phloem cell patterns.

It’s got a name, too: Llana, designed by artist Jenn Wong.

Go check it out, and send us videos of your performance. We’ll post them on the site!

Welcome back to The Bite, Sheepshead Bites’ weekly column where we explore the foodstuffs of Sheepshead Bay. Each week we check out a different offering from one of the many restaurants, delis, food carts, bakeries, butchers, fish mongers, or grocers in our neighborhood. If it’s edible, we’ll take a bite.

This week The Bite samples one of the most suspect meal deals around – the “lunch special.” You know the meal I’m talking about. Soup or egg roll, pork fried or white rice and an entrée. It’s ubiquitous to the Chinese restaurant industry. High-end or low-end restaurant, it doesn’t matter. Somewhere on the menu, you’ll find the “special lunch menu.” Oh, some places change the offerings a little bit by adding soda or salad as options. More health conscience establishments may add brown rice, but its all the same.

Join me now as I take on Mr. Tang Coney Island Kitchen’s “Special Luncheon Menu’s” Orange Chicken, with pork fried rice. At Mr. Tang’s, the offerings are soup or soda, pork fried rice or white rice and the entrée. I usually go with the spicy dishes, so Orange Chicken ($5.35) was my choice. No soup for me! A diet coke completed my meal as it was 90 degrees outside and Mr. Tang’s dining room wasn’t air conditioned.

Continue Reading »

Got a crime problem on your block? Had a particularly good experience with an officer and you want to commend them? Had a bad one and want to complain?

Want to hear about the biggest crime issues in the neighborhood?

Come to this month’s 61st Precinct Community Council meeting, tonight, June 22, at 7:30 p.m. Meet with Deputy Inspector Georgios Mastrokostas and his executive staff to discuss crime prevention and safety-related topics with fellow neighbors. This month’s meeting will be at the Bainbridge Center, 3093 Ocean Avenue. Meetings are usually on the second Wednesday of every month, but was rescheduled this month.

Proposed site of Brooklyn Bay Center, featuring BJ's Wholesale Club

Borough President Marty Markowitz gave the green-light to Thor Equities’ plans to build a shopping center near Ceasar’s Bay that would include a BJ’s Wholesale Club, but not without some caveats – the famously food-friendly beep is demanding a classy waterfront restaurant be among the complex’s four tenants. But with a notably toothless approval/recommendation process, we’re not holding our breath.

Find out what Markowitz wants, and why we don’t think it’ll ever happen.