Archive for the tag 'save coney island'

Thor's vision for its Surf Avenue properties

We received the following e-mail from Save Coney Island, a group dedicated to, um, saving Coney Island. To give you the gist: in order to help preserve the district’s character, the group asked the Landmarks Preservation Committee to create a historic district that would protect many of the buildings on and around Surf Avenue from demolition. However, LPC is a notoriously slow agency, and developer Thor Equities is moving quickly to destroy the buildings before the LPC has a chance to evaluate them. Save Coney Island is trying to halt that from happening, and has created an action plan for residents to help stop “Thor’s Hammer” in mid-swing. You can learn more about Save Coney Island at their website. Below is their e-mail.

Last week, Thor Equities announced that it would immediately begin demolishing the historic buildings that it owns along Surf Avenue in the amusement district. This could mean the end of historic Coney Island. The threatened structures include the Grashorn Building (built in the 1880s), the Henderson Music Hall (built circa 1900), the Shore Hotel (built circa 1903), and the Bank of Coney Island (built circa 1923).

These buildings have great historical and cultural significance: They provide a link to the period of Coney Island’s emergence as the world’s greatest amusement area. They also offer tremendous potential to provide a unique Coney Island experience if they are restored and reused.

Don’t let Thor to destroy Coney Island’s history and ruin the amusement area for future generations.

Keep reading and see the action plan

On Friday, NYC Economic Development Corporation sent out its request for proposals (RFP) for amusement operators on the shiny new land it just bought. Worked into the guidelines is a requirement that all applicants must have attractions in place for the Summer 2010 season on a lot that accounts for roughly half the city-owned land. This guarantees something to see next year, and hopefully it’s better than the dreaded Sitt Sideshow. Continue Reading »

(MAS flyer)

Here is the information about the meeting from the flyer:

The future of Coney Island is at stake.
Come to a Public Meeting about the Coney Island amusement area.
When: Wednesday, January 14, at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Our Lady of Solace Church, 2866 W. 17th St
What: Presentation of new ideas and designs for Coney Island amusement area that could bring activity, jobs, and year-round vitality in 2009 and beyond.

Meeting hosts: Municipal Arts Society of New York (MAS)
Other participants: Representatives of Community Board 13, Astella Community Development Corporation, Coney Island United, and other groups will be present.
Closest subway: Stillwell Avenue (D, F, N, Q lines)
Directions: Walk north on Stillwell Ave, turn left on Mermaid Ave, turn right on West 17 St
Refreshments and childcare will be provided
For more information visit

(Coney Island Shrine – Courtesy of Tricia Vita)

Everyone is invited to meet at the Astroland Park gates on New Year’s Day for an opportunity to share the loss of Coney Island, as we know it, with others in a memorial event and to add to a shrine.

Here is the letter we received from the memorial organizer.

Dear Friends,

Today a friend and I made a shrine on Astroland’s Boardwalk gates. In the photos you can see our collage and a bouquet of flowers. There’s also a banner, off to the right, that people can sign. Feel free to contribute photos, drawings, letters, poems, flowers and mementos.

All items should be weather proofed with plastic sheet protectors! If you cannot go to Coney, please post your virtual contributions on the thread on the Coney Island USA Message Board. Many of us will be going to Coney on New Year’s Day. We will try to print out as many as possible and add them to the shrine at Astroland’s gates.

I look forward to seeing many of you on New Year’s Day!

All the best,
Tricia Vita

We had some pretty chilly temperatures this week and don’t you wish it was still summer? If it was still summer, you would probably be heading out to Coney Island on this Friday night for some fireworks, fun, and rides at Astroland Park (nice to see the website is still up) in Coney Island. But, it’s cold outside, Coney Island is closed for the season, Astroland is closed forever, and very little is left of the greatness that was once the greatest amusement park in the world.

Take heart, though, because on this, the Friday before Thanksgiving Thursday, you can still get a little fix of Coney Island fun – but, this time with a little seriousness added in the mix.

Documentary filmmaker, Peter LiPera, presents his film Save Coney Island, The Movie, at the Big Apple Film Festival tonight at 8:15 p.m.

Head on out to the famous Tribeca Cinemas in Manhattan and see what happens when Amos Wengler, notorious Coney Island-lover, performer, and Polar Bear Club member, gets inspired to write a song about his fast-fading memories. Amos is not afraid to take a weekly swim in the Coney Island winter waters and he’s not afraid to challenge Thor Equities, the real estate developers threatening to rid his beloved amusement park of its last bit of charm.

So, step right up, get your tickets, and come to Coney Island…I mean, come see a film about Coney Island.

Save Coney Island – The Movie
Filmmaker: Peter LiPera
Friday, November 21, 2008, 8:15 p.m.
Tribeca Cinemas
54 Varick Street (at Laight st)
New York, NY 10013

Screening cost: Program 11: $20
Ticket cost includes admission to the opening and closing night parties and are available online at the Big Apple Film Festival website or at the door.
Price includes admission to opening & closing night parties

This came in via email:

Dear Friends,

On Sept 7, the closing day of Coney Island’s historic Astroland Park, I was part of a grassroots effort by the Save Coney Island group which distributed 10,000 flyers to visitors. City Hall must have gotten a gazillion emails and calls on 311. A couple of days later, the Associated Press was reporting Mayor Bloomberg is FINALLY stepping in to save Coney!!! “It would be a great shame if the amusements, which have been around for so many years and defined Coney Island and this city as much as anything … it would be a shame if we lost those,” Bloomberg said on Tuesday.

Tonight we’re launching an urgent last ditch effort to save Coney Island and Astroland for another year! We need everyone’s help. We have three or four days at the most. I was skeptical at first, but reliable sources assure me Mayor Bloomberg is indeed actively trying to help rescue historic Astroland Park. Bloomberg has opened the door to negotiations for a lease extension with Joe Sitt of Thor Equities, the real estate speculator who is holding Coney Island hostage and refuses to negotiate.

It’s as if the Mayor has his foot in the door and Sitt is trying to push it closed. Now we need a huge push from the people of New York and the world to open the door all the way.
Continue Reading »

The latest issue of Bay Currents features a front-page article by yours truly covering the June 24 Coney Island Development Corp. scoping hearing. The full text of the article is below:

If there’s any one word to describe the development of Coney Island, it’s confusion.

Private developers, city agencies, development advocates, union groups, artists, councilmen, community board members, amusement operators, public housing advocates, mayors – real and phony – and a white-suited anti-consumerism reverend all vying for the spotlight… what are we even talking about anymore?

Everyone seems to have his or her own plan. The main private developer, Thor Equities, has one. The city agency Coney Island Development Corporation (CIDC) has one, and had another one before that. A myriad of groups are pushing their own proposals that cover their interests – affordable housing, proper infrastructure, job and career training, revitalization strategies to “save” outdoor amusements.

This confusion was palpable at the June 24 hearing at Lincoln High School on the latest CIDC proposal. The agency – charged with overseeing a new development plan for the neighborhood – has worked on a proposal since 2003, with over 200 meetings and more than 1,000 people providing insight and opinion. But that plan was scrapped in April, when the city used CIDC’s name to announce an adjusted proposal without consulting the agency’s directors. The newest proposal appears to give Thor Equities a lot of what it had wanted, allowing them, for example, to build towering 30-story hotels on land that the previous plan zoned for smaller retail.
Continue Reading »

Reverend Billy, one of my favorite characters in contemporary activism, came out to this morning’s Save Coney Island Demonstration, and helped rally the troops for the cause. The reverend is a dramatic anti-commercialism minister, who adopts the style of televangelism to preach against product-worship and the excesses of capitalism. Check out the video of him from today’s event:

If you dig his style, or just like a good docu-comedy, check out his flick What Would Jesus Buy?, in which he and the Church of Stop Shopping teach viewers to Buy Less, Give More. Produced by Morgan Spurlock, the film follows the reverend and his choir as they invade malls, face-off with blank-eyed consumers, and conduct an exorcism on Wal-Mart headquarters.