The Relics of Coney Island

Coney Island

I wrote a blog entry for Atlas Obscura last week related to my two recent visits to Coney Island and the recent dangers its historic structures are facing. You can read it here and I’ve added even more photos below. I’ve fallen in love with Coney Island and its derelict main avenue and colorful beach, where I can see someone in wading boots metal detecting in the surf, and someone taking dramatic portraits of themselves with a tripod on some boulders. I love the scraggly dogs who push tennis balls with their noses in the sand and the people with tattooed faces joining tourists for cheese fries. So glorious.

Shore Theatre

One weekend, I took a walking tour of the historic district with the Save Coney Island group. It focused on the old buildings that are in danger of being demolished, starting with the Shore Theatre.

Intersection of Stillwell and Surf Aves

This old theatre is already in the process of being destroyed.

Coney Island USA

This cool building is actually safe, as the home of Coney Island USA, where you can find Freaks, Beer, and History.

Wonder Wheel from Surf Avenue

Here is one of the many buildings bearing the Thor Equities banner of death.

Coney Island Bank

The Coney Island Bank was readying for demolition on my first fall visit.

Demolition of Coney Island Bank

Two weeks later when I returned, this hole had already been broken into the side of the building.

Cyclone

There are a few structures with historic preservation designations, including the Cyclone roller coaster.

Child's Restaurant on the Boardwalk

Closeup of Child's Restaurant

Child’s Restaurant is also protected.

Wonder Wheel

As is the Wonder Wheel.

Parachute Jump and the Boardwalk

And the Parachute Jump.

Broken Games

Unfortunately, they are definitely the exceptions. Most of Coney Island has an uncertain, grim future, with bulldozing more likely than restoration.

Flower Shop

There are plans for sleek new condos and restaurants, with unclear patrons. There are currently a lot of odd stores right off the Boardwalk, and an unsettling flower shop.

Killer Whale Head

On my second visit, we did more exploring and came across this killer whale head out with the trash.

Coney Island Pomeranian

We also met this nice man on the pier, with his adorable Pomeranian, Moxie, who was sporting a jean jacket.

Rally for Ruby's

On the Boardwalk, we went to the Rally for Ruby’s, for one of the many Boardwalk businesses that is not having its lease renewed, even though it’s been there for 75 years.

Not Fade Away

Hearts for the closing businesses.

Shoot the Freak

Shoot the Freak on the Boardwalk

The bizarre, but uniquely Coney Island, Shoot the Freak is also being closed.

Feeding the Seagulls

The visits to Coney Island didn’t make me very optimistic about the city’s plans for its future, but I hope that there is a way for Coney Island to hold onto its character.

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