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.
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.
This old theatre is already in the process of being destroyed.
This cool building is actually safe, as the home of Coney Island USA, where you can find Freaks, Beer, and History.
Here is one of the many buildings bearing the Thor Equities banner of death.
The Coney Island Bank was readying for demolition on my first fall visit.
Two weeks later when I returned, this hole had already been broken into the side of the building.
There are a few structures with historic preservation designations, including the Cyclone roller coaster.
Child’s Restaurant is also protected.
As is the Wonder Wheel.
And the Parachute Jump.
Unfortunately, they are definitely the exceptions. Most of Coney Island has an uncertain, grim future, with bulldozing more likely than restoration.
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.
On my second visit, we did more exploring and came across this killer whale head out with the trash.
We also met this nice man on the pier, with his adorable Pomeranian, Moxie, who was sporting a jean jacket.
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.
Hearts for the closing businesses.
The bizarre, but uniquely Coney Island, Shoot the Freak is also being closed.
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.