Archive for the tag 'Coney Island'

I’ve seen several drones – basically, remote control quadricopters with cameras, for you n00bs – up in the skies of Coney Island this summer, so this morning I decided to Google for any videos that have been uploaded.

Sure enough, there are four solid videos from four different drone pilots all filmed this summer. The best by far is the one on top by Eric Alexander, which offers some stunning daytime views and flies, probably irresponsibly, close to the Wonder Wheel.

Here’s a good night time one from David Fitzgerald, taking off on the boardwalk behind MCU Park.

Luna Park filmed their own drone video, capturing construction on the final loop of the new Thunderbolt.

And, finally, Chris Weidner went out on the beach with it in early May, getting some shots of the boardwalk and barren sands.

I, for one, am dying to pick up one of these drones and shoot some of my own videos. Unfortunately, due to some very stupid regulations, you can have a billion amateurs piloting drones in the sky for funsies. But because I’m a reporter, using it in any professional way is at the moment strictly prohibited. Figure that one out.

The head of the New York City Office of Recovery and Resiliency is getting behind the Bloomberg-era plan to replace the Riegelmann Boardwalk’s wooden slats with concrete, saying that concrete fared better in Superstorm Sandy.

Recovery chief Daniel Zarrilli testified before the City Council last Thursday, telling them that the choice of concrete was a “sound” decision since it performs better in storms.

He added that the de Blasio administration will continue to replace the wooden boards with concrete going forward.

Bloomberg made the decision to replace the boardwalk with concrete after instituting a citywide ban on tropical hardwood in public projects, the material the boardwalk, as well as other fixtures like benches, have historically been made of. It has been fought for several years by locals who want to see the iconic wood stay, and they even filed suit against the city in 2012. Several compromises were sought, including using alternate wood materials, plastic and a combination of all three – although the city made clear its preference for concrete.

But the announcement that the new administration will stick with the plan because it performed well in Sandy is sure to be challenged by critics. In the wake of the storm, locals said that the concrete allowed sand to pile up on the boardwalk, and also served as a less effective buffer protecting the community from the flooding. They also say the concrete accelerates erosion and is less effective at drainage during storms.

The two councilmembers whose districts overlap the boardwalk, Chaim Deutsch and Mark Treyger, both support using wood.

contaminent

The sediment-filled waste coming out of a covered sewer overflow pipe. (Source: Pete Castro)

The city’s long-awaited solution to street flooding along the Coney Island peninsula has some locals wondering if the remedy isn’t worse than the disease.

West 33rd Street and Bayview Avenue (Source: Google Maps)

West 33rd Street and Bayview Avenue (Source: Google Maps) Click to enlarge.

The Department of Environmental Protection is in the midst of a massive clearing operation in western Coney Island, pumping years of sand, debris and residue out of long-jammed sewer lines, which neighbors say caused the streets to flood in even the slightest rain. But now the city is fielding a new set of complaints from residents who say the toxin-filled water is flowing into Coney Island Creek through a combined sewer overflow pipe at West 33rd Street and Bayview Avenue, adjacent to Kaiser Park beach.

“Yes, you’ve got to clean out the drain. But my logic, my god-given common sense, is that you don’t foul it up, you don’t create another foul condition when you solve that problem,” said Pete Castro, a resident of West 35th Street.

Castro has been on the beach almost daily for the past week and a half, filming and taking photos of the Department of Environmental Protection’s private contractor, National Water Main Cleaning Co., as they pump water into the sewer and it flows out of a nearby outfall pipe, onto the beach. The 30-year resident said the water is thick and black with sludge, oil and other contaminants, mucking up a habitat in the midst of a revival.

“I’ve been seeing wildlife come back to the beach, egrets, the occasional swan, ducks go over there. And they’re dumping that oil there and apparently DEP is okay with it,” he said.

The DEP confirmed that they’re clearing out the sewer lines, and that some debris was simply destined to enter the environment.

“We are working to clear out the sand-impacted storm sewers. This is in response to flooding complaints in the area. We have been cleaning out the sewers for weeks and we understand there have been complaints about pumping stuff into the sewer, but in reality this is what we have to do to clean the sewers,” a spokesperson told this outlet.

Despite years of flooding complaints on the Coney Island peninsula, the latest round of work began after a site visit by Superstorm Sandy recovery honchos Bill Goldstein and Amy Peterson. Led by Councilman Mark Treyger, the team visited P.S. 188, where the students and faculty shared the following video showing the extent of flooding outside of the school in even modest rain.

“This is not Sandy, it’s just an average rainstorm,” Treyger told this outlet about the video. “It is a eye-opening video that shows severe flooding that is so bad that a car floated from the street and crashed into the front of the school, that’s how bad the flooding is. We showed the video to Amy Peterson and Bill Goldstein and they were very alarmed by it.”

“It is a damning video that just absolutely validates and confirms portions of Southern Brooklyn had been neglected by the [Bloomberg] administration.”
- Treyger

The Sandy team put pressure on the Department of Environmental Protection to address the flooding immediately. After inspection, the DEP determined that the sewers were clogged near the outfall pipes that go into Coney Island Creek, and dispatched contractors to clear it out.

Treyger admitted that solving one problem for residents caused concern for others. Castro and neighbors made complaints to his office, and he forwarded the video and photos to the DEP for a response.

As a result, Treyger said, the DEP conducted a review, meeting with the contractor and also bringing in the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which has jurisdiction over area waterways.

“My sense was that they’re going to review and basically provide greater oversight of the work being done,” said Treyger. “For many years the infrastructure has been an issue here and as we move forward to fix it, we’re not looking to create more environmental disasters. This type of work has to be done in accordance with all environmental regulations and we’re going to make sure that that happens.”

truck1

The vactor truck at work on West 33rd Street and Bayview Avenue. (Source: Pete Castro)

But Castro fears the agencies are being less than thorough in their review. Shortly after Treyger met with the DEP, officials from both the DEP and the DEC spoke directly to Castro about his concerns, assuring him they would investigate the spillage and make sure it was in compliance. But instead of investigation, Castro said he received a call from the DEC rep several hours later saying that they had reviewed the operation and concluded it was safe.

“According to his dubious investigation, some guy [from the DEC] just miraculously put his finger in the air and said it’s okay to put that foul oil onto the beach,” said Castro, adding that there was about six hours between the phone calls – four of which was during hours when the trucks were not pumping. “You can get chemical results like that, with a snap of the finger?”

The DEP spokesperson said she did not know of any specific involvement of the DEC in this matter, but said, “I’m sure we’ve been in touch with DEC at some point.” Asked over the course of multiple phone calls if there was knowledge of the contaminants flowing from the pipe, she said, “I have to double check, but don’t forget it’s the sewer system and it has to get out of the sewers. It can be anything.”

She did not have an answer about contamination when we followed up, instead pointing out that the city uses vactor trucks – essentially giant vacuum cleaners that suck out debris, suggesting that there should be no spillage into the waterway. When we noted that there was spillage, as evidenced by video, she reiterated, “We’re doing work out there.” She did not respond to further questions.

Treyger said he requested the DEP hold a meeting in the community in the upcoming weeks to discuss their operations and respond to potential concerns. He said it will be announced soon.

Until then, Castro said he’ll continue to document the filth and hopes to find someone’s help analyzing water samples. In addition to the wildlife and habitat, he’s also concerned about the numerous indigent locals who turn to Coney Island creek to fish for their meals.

“I can’t see it getting much worse. I’m just waiting for the dead fish to pile up,” he said.

Ah, the heady days of the 1960s. I’m told if you remember it, you weren’t there.

So we’ll forgive you if you forgot all about that time – May 9, 1965 – when a bunch of teenagers swiped a penguin from the New York Aquarium in Coney Island.

Why would they steal a penguin, you ask? Because, man, why not?

The story goes like this: an MTA detective was on the subway at Stillwell Avenue, minding everybody’s business like he ought to. He spots a group of teens hop on his subway car carrying a cardboard box. The kids leave, but leave the box behind.

Then the box moves.

Figuring it’s a seagull – because, man, why not? – he goes to grab the box to take it outside and release it. Only after getting bit on the thumb does this detective decide to get a little more inquisitive, and takes a look inside the container.

Bam, penguin.

He called up the aquarium and they confirmed they were a penguin down, and it was returned safely.

Oh, yeah, then it happened again in 1967.

I learned all this after stumbling across the New York Historical Society video above, first released in 2012.

Food

Would you risk perjury for this? (Source: WhiteCastle.com)

A sack of White Castle sliders may have just nabbed the world record for most expensive fast food meal ever.

The city agreed to dole out $32,500 of taxpayer money to compensate two men arrested and allegedly beaten for not forking over the meal to Coney Island police officers.

The case first came to light in March when two men, Danny Maisonet and Kenneth Glover filed suit against the NYPD, claiming they were falsely arrested in 2012 by police officers who wanted their meals.

The two say they got out of a cab carrying the sweaty sliders on Halloween 2012 at Neptune Avenue, where cops were rounding up a group of suspected looters. The officers demanded the burgers, the men claimed, and were rebuffed.

The New York Post describes what happened next:

Enraged by the denial, the officers began to beat the men with flashlights and eventually arrested them for obstruction of governmental administration, according to the suit.

Officers​, meanwhile,​ accused them of blocking their way as they tried to round up the looters, court papers state.

The pair were held for two days and were forced to attend several court appearances before the charges against them were tossed.

Pizzarro (Source: DCPI)

Pizzarro (Source: DCPI)

Officer Angelo Pizzarro filed the report, swearing that the men were standing in his way during the struggle with the alleged looters.

In an unrelated case, Pizzarro was described by an assistant district attorney as “not the brightest tool in the shed,” after the cop’s “bizarre and implausible” testimony regarding missing evidence caused that case to be lost. Pizzarro was part of a team of Coney Island housing cops who said they spotted a man with a gun in his waistband.

The Daily News reports:

But when Pizzarro was called to testify at a hearing in November, he claimed his memo book detailing the arrest had been “washed away” with his locker by Sandy.

Later it was learned that Pizzarro had previously handed over the missing memo book to the city Law Department in a separate lawsuit. Questioned why the memo book was not waterlogged and the ink still legible, Pizzarro came up with this explanation: “There are pens that write under water. It won’t leave a blemish, a running mark or anything.”

The judge in that case referred Pizzarro’s testimony to the Internal Affairs Bureau for investigation. It’s unclead if the “separate lawsuit” mentioned above is the White Castle suit or a third, unrelated lawsuit involving the officer.

The White Castle suit was dismissed Wednesday, with the city agreeing to pay Glover $20,000 and Maisonett $12,500.

Source: Marie Berne/Flickr

New York Police Department and Fire Department divers rushed to the scene early this morning after receiving a call that a man jumped from Steeplechase Pier and never came up for air.

The 29-year-old man jumped into the water from the West 16th Street pier at approximately 2:30 a.m. to “join two women who were swimming in the ocean nearby,” according to the Daily News. He did not surface.

It took the divers nearly an hour to locate the man and pull him from the water 14 blocks away at West 30th.

He was taken to Coney Island Hospital and listed in critical condition, according to the Post.

Coney Island’s beach, like all city beaches, are only open between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day. Swimming is prohibited when lifeguards are not on duty. Jumping from Steeplechase Pier is strictly prohibited at all times.

I was really hoping to be among the first riders of the new Thunderbolt roller coaster, which finally opened to the public after a short delay on Saturday. Unfortunately, Father’s Day plans got in the way, dashing my dream of telling my grandchildren about being there on opening day.

While I may not be able to share that experience with them, or you, we’ve got the next best thing: a first-person video of the ride, taken from the front seat of the 9-person car, courtesy of Luna Park.

After an almost fully vertical ascent 115 feet into the air, the all steel coaster drops at speeds up to 55 miles per hour, then twists and turns its way until the end. From all the reports I’ve read, it’s an incredibly smooth ride, in contrast to the rickety, bruise-inducing terror trip of the Cyclone (that’s no knock; the fear of imminent death unrealized is what we love about the 87-year-old ride).

The scribes over at Animal said the initial drop is the clear highlight – “you really feel as if you might slide out from under the red shiny safety harness as you’re catapulted downward” – and makes all that follows a little, well, less-than. “I’d compare it to a hard orgasm with a soft wistful ending.”

Indeed.

Did you ride the Thunderbolt this weekend? What did you think?

thunderbolt

Source: Allan Shweky/Brooklyn Views

The Mengels shooting gallery now in operation at Coney Island USA (Source: CIUSA/Facebook)

The Mangels shooting gallery now in operation at Coney Island USA (Source: CIUSA/Facebook)

Green-Wood Cemetery historian Jeff Richman is using Kickstarter to raise money for an exhibit on William F. Mangels, a German immigrant and inventor based in Coney Island who was a leading developer of America’s amusement parks at the turn of the last century. The project goal is to raise $17,500 by July 27, of which $3,291 has been donated so far.

Here’s the video for the project:

The proposed exhibit, titled “William F. Mangels: Amusing the Masses on Coney Island and Beyond” will be installed at Green-Wood’s Historic Chapel, and will feature “real pieces of Mangel’s rides and games – a carousel horse, a 22nd-foot-long shooting gallery, and actual Whip cars and original sketches, in Mangels’s hand, of The Tickler,” in addition to historic photography, video, and written correspondence.

If the Mangels name sounds familiar, it’s because we wrote about him last year when carnies unearthed a World War II-era shooting gallery behind one of their booths while cleaning up after Superstorm Sandy. The gallery has been restored and now sits next to Coney Island USA as part of their living museum. For $5, you get 100 shots at nailing metal tanks, airplanes and soldiers as they zip around the booth.

The Daily News reports that Richman spent the last 10 years collecting materials from all over the country for the exhibit—and although Green-Wood Cemetery has been curating exhibits since 1998, this would be the first ever dedicated entirely to one person.

The funds raised would offset the costs of graphics, lighting, monitors, framing, shipping, and video necessary to give Mangels his much-deserved tribute—and as is customary with Kickstarter fundraisers, backers will be rewarded with a variety of handsome prizes, including exclusive merchandise and even private tours for the most generous supporters.

- Sam Shokin

The 32nd Annual Mermaid Parade is just around the corner, kicking off at 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 21.

Antique automobiles, wacky floats and scantily clad mermaids and mermen will roll down Surf Avenue and the boardwalk in New York City’s largest public celebration of art, artists and counterculture. But some are grousing over this year’s choice of honorees as King Neptune and Queen Mermaid.

The event organizers, Coney Island USA, announced recently that the top slots, previously played by Lou Reed, David Byrne, Queen Latifah and other celebrated actors, musicians and notables, will be filled by New York City’s first kids, Dante and Chiara de Blasio.

The mayor’s offspring will be wheeled through the parade in an antique wicker Boardwalk Rolling Chair that dates back to 1923.

“We are extraordinarily honored to have the participation of New York City’s first family in the parade,” said Coney Island USA founder Dick Zigun, who is known as the Mayor of Coney Island. “King Neptune and Queen Mermaid represent the young adults of New York City who are the next generation of visitors to Coney Island and Coney Island USA.”

While many have hailed their selection, we’ve also seen a number of people taking to social media to decry the choice. Some say they’ll be skipping the parade this year because they disagree with the mayor’s politics. Others have argued that the two are hardly creative heroes or counterculture figures.

It’s unlikely the discontent will make much of a difference in attendance at the event, but we wanted to find out what locals think. Are Dante and Chaira de Blasio good choices to celebrate Coney Island’s quirks? Or is this selection just too political for you?

Timpano in front of her home beneath the Thunderbolt.

Timpano in front of her home beneath the Thunderbolt.

Test cars have been running on the Thunderbolt ahead of its public opening sometime next week, and a new generation of riders are preparing themselves for the $10 thrill on the resurrected, reimagined ride. But how many of those riders will remember the original Thunderbolt? And how many of those will remember the home beneath the coaster?

That home, a modest looking shack wedged beneath the ride’s wood and steel beams, was made most famous by Woody Allen’s Annie Hall, where it was the childhood home of protagonist Alvy Singer. Many likely figured it was an artistic embellishment, that the actual building there was little more than a utility shack.

Timpano inside the home.

Timpano inside the home.

But locals knew better. The gritty looking home, surrounded by brush and a layer of paint that looked like it had been applied in Biblical times, was actually the home of Mae Timpano and Freddie Moran. While it wasn’t much to look at from the outside – except for its odd placement – many would be surprised to learn that it was well-kept on the inside, with six rooms and a grand piano, and a stock of Coney Island tea (a.k.a. beer).

The home and its two long-time residents became the subject of a short documentary, Under the Roller Coaster. Released in 2001, shortly after the coaster and home’s demolition, it  examined the home, and the couple’s, place in Coney Island history. Here’s a synopsis.

In 1946, while working as a waitress on Coney Island, Mae met Fred Moran, the owner and operator of the Thunderbolt roller coaster. They soon fell in love, and for forty years they lived together in Fred’s house — right under the Thunderbolt’s first turnaround.

Fred died in 1982, and the Thunderbolt carried its last thrill-seeker soon after. In 1988, Mae moved out, and the house was sold to a developer [Horace Bullard] who dreamed of building a new amusement park on the famed island. But the coaster was silent for twelve years, and in November 2000, with no warning, the city of New York bulldozed away one of its great urban treasures. Here, Mae tells the story of her years living in the house that the Thunderbolt rattled.

Timpano passed away in 2009.

When you ride the new Thunderbolt for the first time, make sure to take a moment to remember these two icons, and the long journey Coney Island has taken that the ride represents. And some wise words from the documentary:

“That’s the funny thing about Coney Island. It seems that once you get sand in your shoes, you never lose it.”

Here’s the full documentary:

Update: It looks like Curbed had a similar idea, and published a more in-depth piece about the coaster and home’s history.

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