Archive for the tag 'boardwalk'

Atlas on NY1

Atlas on NY1

At this point, just about every resident of Southern Brooklyn’s boardwalk communities knows Gary Atlas – if not by name, then by sight.

He’s the guy you see out there every morning, regardless of the weather, running shirtless and in thin shorts before taking a plunge in the ocean.

He’s done this every day for 2,369 consecutive days – or six years and counting.

NY1 caught up with him earlier this month, spotlighting his continuous effort to hit 4,000 consecutive runs even throughout this particularly nasty winter.

As workers with the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation spreaded salt on the latest dusting of snow Monday, Gary Atlas emerged from his building shirtless and ready to run. About his only acknowledgment of the cold was the socks that he wears on his hands.

“The fingers tend to freeze up, so socks work better than gloves,” he said. “Gloves, after a while, my fingers will get cold. Socks has a mitten effect. The hands stay warmer.”

The cold itself hasn’t been bothering Atlas, it’s the snow, which makes the six-mile treck a particularly difficult slog. But he handled the worst of the days by detouring to the streets and running in the plow’s wake – the second time in seven years he’s had to leave the boardwalk.

Atlas began the routine in 2007 to clear his mind while his mother struggled with health issues. He continues to do it to honor his mother.

“While I’m running, it keeps the memory of my mother alive,” he says. “She was here when I started, and she’s still with me on every run.”

Check out the full profile here.

And, of course, we’ve had our own little Atlas sighting on Sheepshead Bites. On the morning of October 29, 2012, as Superstorm Sandy lapped at our coastline, a reader snapped this shot of him emerging from the rough waters:

The aftermath of the 2011 shooting, which happened in front of Tatiana’s Restaurant on the Brighton Beach boardwalk.

Iloune Driver, one of two suspected gunmen behind the 2011 Brighton Beach boardwalk shooting that left 16-year-old Tysha Jones dead, has been found guilty and faces 125 years to life behind bars.

Tysha Jones was a junior at Norman Thomas High School and lived in a Harlem apartment with her mother, Cynthia, her brother and sister, according to friends.

Tysha Jones (via Twitter)

Driver, 21, was convicted yesterday for his role in the June 9, 2011, melee, which broke out after two rival gangbangers from the Bloods and Crips exchanged heated words, then opened fire on a boardwalk crowded with teens and beachgoers on the hottest day of the year.

Driver is a former Crips member, and the New York Post reports that he has nine prior busts for gun, drug and robbery charges. He has been convicted on four counts of assault in addition to the second-degree murder charge. Sentencing will take place next month, and he will face 25 years to life for the count of murder, and 25 years for each assault.

None of the five people struck by bullets were believed to be involved in the incident.

“My baby can rest in peace now,” Tysha Jones’ 51-year-old mother, Cynthia, told the Post.

During the trial, Driver’s attorney argued that video  filmed in the immediate aftermath of the shooting provides evidence that flies in the face of the witnesses’ statements that Driver fired from the beach. The video, he said, shows him on the boardwalk, scrambling for cover.

The jury disagreed.

It is appropriate with Halloween being around the corner that we have the pleasure to introduce more glorious footage of Coney Island’s yesteryear, highlighting the spooky freak shows that help make the boardwalk iconic.

Last month, we came across a 50-second clip uploaded by ChiTownView, which featured the freak shows of Coney Island dating back to the 1940s. Well, this historically minded YouTuber has found even more footage of vintage Coney Island, mashing newsreel bits from the 40s, 50s and 60s together into a glorious and trippy walk down memory lane.

This time, you can see men breathing fire, dancing freaks, creepy wax museum figures that nearly come to life, a racy little striptease and the whirling light show of Coney Island’s best rides set to a creepy laugh track of drunken carnies. Best of all, it ends like all the best nights on Coney Island do, with a fireworks show blasting in the sky.

Great stuff, ChiTown. We hope you can keep finding the lost gems and sharing them for all of us to appreciate.

The aftermath of the 2011 shooting, which happened in front of Tatiana’s Restaurant on the Brighton Beach boardwalk.

The attorney for 21-year-old Iloune Driver, charged with opening fire on the Brighton Beach boardwalk in 2011, leading to the death of a 16-year-old girl and leaving four others wounded, says that video taken moments after the shooting proves his client’s innocence.

The June 9, 2011, shooting happened as a gunman opened fire on the boardwalk crowded with teens and beachgoers, leaving 16-year-old Tysha Jones, and innocent bystander, dead. Four others were also injured, including a patron of Tatiana Restaurant.

Tysha Jones was a junior at Norman Thomas High School and lived in a Harlem apartment with her mother, Cynthia, her brother and sister, according to friends.

Tysha Jones (Source: Twitter)

The incident is believed to have been sparked when two groups of rival gang members from the Bloods and the Crips exchanged heated words, leading one to draw on the others and open fire.

“That’s what it was all about — gang stupidity,” prosecutor Janet Gleeson told the Daily News.

None of the five struck by wayward bullets were believed to be involved in the incident.

Police apprehended Driver at the nearby subway station. He wasn’t initially charged, according to the News, and named other suspects. A witness later later identified Driver as the shooter in a phone tip to police, leading to charges including second-degree murder.

But according to Driver’s defense attorney, Mario Romano, video filmed in the immediate aftermath of the shooting provides evidence that flies in the face of the witnesses’ statements that Driver fired from the beach. The video, he said, shows him on the boardwalk, scrambling for cover.

Just hours after the shooting, cell phone video from numerous sources began appearing online that captured that aftermath.

You can see more video here and here.

According to the Daily News, there is no ballistic evidence or weapon connecting Driver to the shooting. They note that he is an admitted Crip with the words “True Blue” tattooed on his chest.

Hep Cats (Source: 50sand60s via Twitter)

Hep Cats (Source: 50sand60s via Twitter)

Dig the scene. A couple of cool daddios parade down the boardwalk on Coney Island, smoking cigs and flashing tattoos, grooving on all the squares terrified over their rock n’ roll attitudes.

Yes, that was an incredibly lame description but the picture above, provided on Twitter by the @50sand60s account, is a fascinating glimpse into how little changes in the world of cool. Yes, tattoos, Ray Ban sunglasses and hipster hairdos were also all the rage in 1957, proving that Coney Island is always a place to look cool and be cool… or something.

Freakin’ hipsters.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

A new YMCA is coming to Coney Island, and administrators are looking to mark their grand opening by burying a time capsule. News 12 is reporting that the representatives from the Y are looking for community input as to what should go in the capsule.

The new facility will be located at Surf Avenue and West 29th Street and is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The capsule is set to be sealed inside the building, not to be disturbed for decades. News 12 is reporting that the most common suggestions thus far include parts of the boardwalk, tickets for rides and Nathan’s hot dogs. If they put in a hot dog, I feel sorry for the dominant automatons that get a whiff of that capsule when they open it in the distant future.

I have a fundamental problem with time capsules. It seems that no time capsule is buried without some journalist writing about what was placed inside. It defeats the purpose of creating a mystery for people from the future if they can just look up an old news article and see that the ‘strange time capsule from yesteryear’ includes Pop-Tarts, Air Jordan’s, a U2 cassette tape and whatever else people think is a good idea to cram in these things.

Anyway, to submit your own idea for the capsule and to learn more about the new YMCA coming to Coney Island, click here.

Photo by Bruce Brodinsky

Photo by Bruce Brodinsky

Steeplechase Pier, located off the boardwalk at Coney Island, reopened this week, nearly a year after sustaining significant damage following Superstorm Sandy. Amusing the Zillion reported earlier this week that repairs on the pier were almost completed and will open sometime this month.

Now, reader Bruce Brodinsky has tipped us off that the pier is fully open, with shiny new benches, railings, lighting and more. It looks great!

As we reported on Sheepshead Bites, the 1,000-foot-pier was originally set to open in July, but continuing construction delayed the reopening. The construction, which has cost an estimated $19.4 million, had suffered setbacks when a barge and crane used in the repairs sank in April.

The new pier is also set to offer an interesting new see-through observation deck which will allow pedestrians to stare down at the water under their feet.

Nathan's Famous in the 1950s (Source: eBay via brownstoner.com)

Nathan’s Famous in the 1950s (Source: eBay via brownstoner.com)

Every time I am tasked with writing something about the original Nathan’s Famous (1310 Surf Avenue) I get really hungry. There is something about those delicious, ketchup-covered* hot dogs, the salty crinkle-cut french fries and the sea breeze off the boardwalk at Coney Island that just presses all my happy buttons. We all know that Nathan’s is a Brooklyn institution, but a reminder never hurts. A report in Brownstoner delves into the near century-long tradition of the world’s best hot-dog palace.

Like many Coney Island businesses, Nathan’s was wrecked by Superstorm Sandy. The hot-dog headquarters had a triumphant reopening this past May after undergoing a full remodeling. After all, no mere storm was going to sink this royal house of franks. Brownstoner noted that the reopening of Nathan’s brought back something old to the new start:

It re-opened in the spring of 2013, in time for the Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer. This time, they added something new – well, something old made a comeback, rather. The new Nathan’s has a curbside clam bar again, not seen since the 1950s. It’s a revival of the restaurant’s raw bar, with East Coast oysters and littleneck clams that are shucked on order over a mountain of ice. They are served with chowder crackers, lemon wedges, horseradish and cocktail sauce.

Brownstoner rolls back the clock even further, describing how Nathan’s was born from the original hot dog inventors:

The story is a familiar rags to riches, immigrant success story. Nathan’s Famous began in the mind of an enterprising Polish immigrant named Nathan Handwerker. Prior to 1916, he was working at the famous Feltman’s German Gardens, an immensely popular restaurant on Coney Island. Charles Feltman was another success story, a German immigrant who came to the US in 1856 at the age of fifteen. His Coney Island career started with a food pushcart on the beach, but by the early 1900’s, that push cart had grown into an empire that took up an entire city block. Feltman’s entertainment and restaurant complex contained nine restaurants, a beer garden, two enormous bars, a carousel, a roller coaster, an outdoor movie theater, a hotel, a ballroom, a bathhouse, a pavilion, a maple garden and a Tyrolean village. He was now a millionaire many times over.

Today, few people remember the enormity of his business, but they do remember that here in New York, he is credited for the invention of the hot dog. (There are other contenders.) He would later comment that his decision to put a sausage on a roll was not an attempt to invent something new, but was just an expedient way of serving the meat, one that didn’t need expensive silverware, or even a plate. He sold his frankfurters for ten cents, and they quickly became the most popular item on his menu.

The report then describes how Nathan Handwerker, (a great name for a hot dog pioneer, I might add) went on to build his own empire using cheaper prices and orchestrating the myth that his hot dogs were healthier than the competition’s:

Nathan Handwerker, as a worker at Feltman’s, was of course familiar with its famous fare. It was his job to split the rolls, and deliver the franks to the grilling station. Legend has it that he slept on the floor of the restaurant in order to save money for his own business. He wanted to make a better hot dog, and he had just the person to help him – his wife Ida Greenwald Handwerker. She had a recipe enhanced with secret spice ingredients handed down from her grandmother in the Old Country. With the encouragement of fellow Feltman’s employees, pianist Jimmy Durante and singing waiter Eddie Cantor, Nathan and Ida pooled together their savings, and with that $300, went into the hot dog business. In order to make their mark, and drum up their initial business, Nathan’s charged only five cents for their hot dogs, while Feltman’s were twice as much, at ten cents. It worked. The good tasting, cheaper hot dog was an enormous hit.

The dogs were sold at the small Nathan’s Famous stand on the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues, beginning in 1916. Nathan was a great idea man, and like all of the great Coney Island entrepreneurs, had more than a bit of the showman in him. He knew that a food like the hot dog would be suspicious to many people, especially in those early days before food inspectors. Ground meat products in casings, like hot dogs and sausages, caused many a raised eyebrow as to their content. They didn’t call it “mystery meat” for nothing. So he devised a two-fold strategy to overcome that stigma.

First, he had all of his servers dress in clean white surgeon’s smocks, to show cleanliness. He then handed out flyers to the local hospitals telling staff that they could eat for free, if they came to Nathan’s in their hospital white uniforms. Soon, long lines of doctors, nurses and aides, all in white, were standing in lines at the stand. Hey, if health professionals ate here in droves, it must be healthy, good food, right? Nathan’s never looked back.

Amazing stuff. The report goes on to detail the menu items added over the years and the subsequent massive expansion of the business over the years. I think I’m gonna hop on the Q-train now and grab a dog, but if your mouth isn’t quite watering yet, you can read the entire report by clicking here.

*Neditor’s note – Ketchup? F’ing ketchup?! MUSTARD! SPICY BROWN DELI MUSTARD! Ugh. I apologize to our readers for Willie’s uncivilized tastes. Freakin’ transplants.

Photo Courtesy of Christine Finn

Photo Courtesy of Christine Finn

The following is a press release from the offices of Senator Charles Schumer:

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that the $7.2 million contract awarded by the Army Corps of Engineers to place 600,000 cubic yards of sand along Coney Island is scheduled to be pumped this upcoming weekend. Schumer fought for and secured approval for this emergency project as part of the Coney Island Reach project, which extends from West 37th Street to Brighton Beach.

“Coney Island was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy and soon, its beaches will be well on their way to being protected against future flooding,” said Schumer. “This emergency project is critical to Coney Island beachgoers and homeowners and that’s why I fought hard to make sure this replenishment project had funding necessary from the Sandy Relief Bill. It is gratifying to see this work about to begin.”

The Coney Island Reach project, which extends from West 37th Street to Brighton Beach, consists of approximately 3 miles of beachfront which provides storm damage reduction to the densely populated communities and infrastructure located along the shoreline of Coney Island.

Through the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 (the Sandy Relief Bill, or PL 113-2), the Corps of Engineers is authorized to restore certain previously constructed projects impacted by Hurricane Sandy to their original design profile. Through this legal authority, the Corps of Engineers is authorized to place the additional sand at Coney Island to restore the project area to its original design profile. PL 113-2 also allocated the funds for the coastal restoration work.

Schumer today announced that the Corps expects the work will begin the weekend of September 7th and will pump 600,000 cubic yards of sand along Coney Island.

Source: NYC Dept. of Parks and Recreation

Source: NYC Dept. of Parks and Recreation

The Brighton Beach bathroom pods are currently parked at the end of the boardwalk but they won’t remain there forever, much to the consternation of residents of the Oceana luxury condominiums (50 Oceana Drive West). The New York Daily News is reporting that the Parks Department is dead-set on placing the bathrooms eventually, in spite of fierce opposition.

Last week, we reported on a preliminary injunction signed by a Brooklyn Supreme Court judge that ordered a full environmental impact study to be conducted before construction can continue. Opponents of the bathrooms, including Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, hailed this decision as a victory for Oceana residents who are sickened by the prospect of staring at a public bathroom from their windows. Despite this victory, the Daily News is reporting that the city plans to continue their fight to put the bathrooms in place:

Officials have refused to provide information about the construction snafu, but a spokeswoman said the city will continue its push to install the loos.

“The petitioners’ repeated efforts to halt the new comfort stations unfortunately means that a vital facility for the greater public continues to be delayed,” Meghan Lalor, a spokeswoman for the New York City Parks Department.

While the the legal effort put forward by Oceana residents focuses on environmental and safety concerns, comments made by residents to the Daily News reflect the notion that opposition still suggests other priorities:

“I paid so much money for an oceanview apartment,” [Alexandra Tsepenuk] added. “And to have that massive structure right in front of my window is ridiculous. My kids won’t be able to see anything.”

Other residents said the structure will attract drug dealers, gang members and other undesirables, not to mention the expected disadvantages of being next to the loo.

“I don’t want the nasty breeze from the toilets to come into my apartment,” said Olga Norman, another resident who also has an ocean-facing apartment.

“Restrooms are great, but why can’t they put it further down the boardwalk? I’m scared about drug deals taking place under the structure, and all the homeless people that will gather there.”

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