It’s a Coney Island New Year!

December 30th, 2010

Come to Coney Island on New Year’s Day for a protest and a swim. Starting at 10:30 am, folks will gather by Ruby’s to protest the eviction of eight of the Boardwalk businesses. Once you’ve worked yourself into a state of agitation, cool yourself down in the water at the annual Polar Bear New Year’s Day swim. We hope you can make it.

Ruby’s Protest
Where: Ruby’s
When: Starting at 10:30 am

Polar Bear Swim
Where: Boardwalk at Stillwell
When: 1:00 pm
http://www.polarbearclub.org/

Save Coney Island’s 2010 Recap

December 30th, 2010

As the end of the year approaches and everyone is still in the spirit of giving thanks, we wanted to thank you for your support over the past year.  The summer of 2010 was a critical season for Coney Island, with many twists and turns.  From the successful season of the new Luna Park, to the ongoing demolition of historic buildings, to the efforts to evict longstanding Boardwalk businesses, the past half year has shown us that Coney’s future remains precarious, with both enormous potential and profound threats.

Save Coney Island remains committed to a vision of Coney Island that promotes its extraordinary heritage as it is revitalized to become a thriving amusement destination once again.  Now that the rides are packed up for winter, we thought it would be a good time to take a look back on the work accomplished this year – none of which would have been possible without your absolutely vital support.

Initiatives

  1. In March we wrote a commentary, published by the Center for an Urban Future, that made short-term recommendations for enhancing the Coney Island visitor experience. The report led to
    coverage by programs like WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show.” To our delight, some the items in
    our list had come to pass by the end of the season.
  2. Working with leading preservation groups, we prepared an application for the creation of a
    Coney Island historic district that was submitted to the New York City Landmarks Preservation
    Commission. The application was supported by the New York Landmarks Conservancy, the
    Historic Districts Council, Coney Island USA, and the Coney Island History Project.
  3. With the same coalition, we prepared an application for a National Register Historic District
    for the New York State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). The SHPO responded to our
    application with a Determination of Eligibility for inclusion on the State and National Registers
    of Historic Places. Eventual inclusion on the registers would potentially make government funds
    and tax incentives available for the restoration of the historic buildings.
  4. In September we helped organize a fantastic panel at the CUNY Graduate to discuss how
    Coney’s history could play a part in its future. Moderated by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian
    Mike Wallace, the panel included developer David Malmuth, historian Michael Immerso,
    preservationist Lisa Ackerman of World Monuments Fund, and amusement operator Valerio
    Ferrari.

Advocacy

  1. With the help of volunteer architects, we created three renderings of Coney’s endangered historic
    buildings. These designs illustrated the tremendous reuse potential of the buildings and offered
    alternatives for redevelopment without demolition.
  2. Our crack team of volunteer graphic designers produced and printed a beautiful map of Coney’s
    amusement area. This map lists all the businesses, services, and attractions, and it provides a
    brief history of Coney. It is the only free map of the area available and we hope to do a far larger print run next season.
  3. In support of our historic district application, we designed and produced postcards addressed
    to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. Volunteers collected signatures from Coney
    Island supporters all over the city throughout the spring months.
  4. We created a brochure to bring attention to the significance of the historic corridor that remains
    on Surf Avenue. The brochure includes descriptions of the individual buildings with historic
    images illustrating their unique histories.
  5. We published an Op-Ed in the Daily News calling attention the importance of Coney’s history to
    its redevelopment.

Outreach

  1. Throughout the summer, we conducted almost 20 free walking tours of historic Coney Island.
    Hundreds of people who joined us and learned about the tremedous opportunities to make Coney
    Island’s rich history central to its future.
  2. We staged two pieces of political theater at Coney Island to bring attention to the demolition
    threat by Thor. The first was a mock auction in which Coney’s mermaids considered adaptive
    reuse scenarios for the area’s historic buildings. The second was the Rally of the Many Marxes
    held at Henderson’s Music Hall, where Harpo Marx made his stage debut.
  3. In addition to these things, throughout the year volunteers from Save Coney Island have initiated and
    attended meetings with a variety of experts and stakeholders — from preservation organizations, to
    developers and state and city agencies — to advocate for the best Coney Island possible. In order to build
    on the successes of this last year, to keep our initiatives active, and to explore new strategies we rely on
    your continued support.

To all of you who contributed, volunteered your time, or even attended any of our events: none of this would have been possible without you. Thank you.

Please donate to support our work by clicking on the “Donate” link at the top of the left column.

Second Siren Screen Series a Success

December 21st, 2010
A lot of fun was had by all and a bunch of Coney Island films were enjoyed at the second Siren Screen Series on December 9th at the Black Horse Pub in Brooklyn. If you couldn’t make it, check out the pictures below to see images from the event.

Many thanks to Johnny Salvatore for organizing, Amanda Jencsik who did a wonderful job hosting on very short notice, and to the other volunteers who helped make it possible-including live performances by Seanna Sharpe and Matt Dallow!

Funds raised from the event went to benefit Save Coney Island.

All photos by Daniel Turkewitz

Shore Theater Landmarked

December 17th, 2010

Shore Theater c. 1930's and Today - Historic photo ©Charles Denson Archives

The fight to protect Coney Island’s endangered historic fabric yielded an important victory Tuesday when the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to landmark the historic Shore Theater.

The landmarking of the Shore Theater’s exterior is a positive development at a time when many of Coney Island’s historic structures are being demolished. The Shore Theater, if restored and reactivated, has the potential can serve as an important part of a revitalized future Coney Island, providing a tangible tie to its rich past.

Constructed in 1925 to the design of noted theater architects, Reilly & Hall, the theater was originally known as “Loew’s Coney Island” and served as both a live performance vaudeville venue and a movie house. At the time of its construction, the Shore Theater represented the optimism for the future of Coney Island at the dawn of the “Nickel Empire.” Its theater seated nearly 2,400 people, and its tower included a restaurant and  office space intended for the entertainment industry, which the developers hoped would flourish in Coney Island.

Like many structures in Coney Island, the theater suffered in the 1970s as Coney Island was ravaged by municipal and private disinvestment and pure neglect. The theater, which had become known as the Brandt Shore in the 1960s, was an adult movie house for several years before it finally closed for good in 1973. It has sat vacant and unused ever since.

Over thirty-five years later, the building’s theater and office space provide a wonderful opportunity for a revitalized Coney Island. Although the interior has not been publicly accessible in decades, we believe that enough of the interior features, including its 66-foot-diameter dome, gold and cerise auditorium, and other details remain and could be restored. The Shore Theater, currently owned by Horace Bullard, could be a destination venue for Coney Island and could play a major role in bringing more people to Coney Island for amusements and entertainment.

Meanwhile, the damage inflicted on Coney Island by Thor Equities continues unabated.  In the past month, Thor has demolished two historic structures along the Surf Avenue corridor, The Bank of Coney Island and the Shore Hotel.  Thor is now moving  ahead with the demolition of Henderson’s Music Hall, where Harpo Marx made his stage debut.

In Remembrance of the Bank of Coney Island

December 3rd, 2010

Exterior and Interior shots of the former Bank of Coney Island Building. Exterior photo by Bruce Handy.

We are saddened to report that Thor reduced the beautiful and historic Bank of Coney Island building to rubble last week. The 1923 classical revival structure had survived for nearly nine decades, testimony to the past strength of the Coney Island business community.

We feel that this is both an unfortunate loss to Coney Island; but also a tremendous squandered opportunity, and we strongly condemn Thor’s destructive and short-sighted treatment of the amusement area.  Save Coney Island and leading New York preservation groups had urged the preservation and reuse of the Bank and continues to advocate likewise on behalf of the other threatened historic structures.

Over the summer, we held dozens of walking tours, helped organize a panel, and published an Op-Ed to raise awareness of ways in which these buildings could have been part of an exciting 21st Century Coney Island.  We filed an application with the New York State Historic Preservation Office, which might offer financial incentives to help that happen.  And we released a rendering showing what the bank building would have looked like re-imagined as a Bowery Ballroom-style music venue and events space.

As you take a moment to imagine what might have been, rest assured that we will continue to fight to help ensure that future redevelopment honors Coney’s rich history and restores it as the Playground of the World.

Read more about Thor’s demolition of the Bank of Coney Island here:

http://amusingthezillion.com/2010/11/24/photo-of-the-day-r-i-p-bank-of-coney-island/

SIREN SCREEN SERIES 2 BENEFIT

December 3rd, 2010

Come to the second annual Siren Screen Series!  This film series was designed by our friend, director Johnny Salvatore to promote local filmmakers and Coney Island while also raising money for our cause.

This year, the Siren Screen Series will be MC’d by actress Molly Ryman, who recently starred in the independent features “…Around” and “New York Lately”.

WHAT:  “Siren Screen Series 2″ film series benefits Save Coney Island.  Tickets are $10

WHEN: Thursday, December 9 at 8:00 – 11:00 p.m.

WHERE:  Black Horse Pub – 568 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY.

WHO:  MC’d by actress Molly Ryman, star of “…Around” and “New York Lately”. Siren Screen Series’s founder and director is Johnny Salvatore.

The films presented are:

1) “A Day in the Life of Coney Island” – Daniel Turkewitz – 2010 – 20 minutes (world premiere)

2) “Twistin’ Gorilla” – Pacer Burton – 2006 – 6 minutes

3) “Avenue X” – Leslie McCleave – 1994 – 16 minutes (winner, jury prize for best short at Sundance: winner best short SXSW) (stars Brian O’Byrne of “Million Dollar Baby” “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” and “New World” in his first ever movie role)

4) “Olive” – Amanda Jencsik/Chris DePierro – 2010 – 20 minutes

5) “My Own Private March” – Howie Alex – 2010 – 8 minutes (winner for best experimental short at this year’s Coney Island Film Festival)

6) “Neptune Jam, Live at The Grill” – Howie Alex – 2010 – 2 minutes (music video) (world premiere)

7) “Temporarily in Love” – Randy Scott Slavin – 2008 – 3 minutes (music video) (winner for best music video at the 2008 Coney Island Film Festival; winner for best music video at the 2008 California Online Film Festival)

8) “The Heart of Coney Island” – Melanie Schiele – 2009 – 7 minutes (features Coney Island icon, Jimmy Prince)

9) “Coney Island” – Ramen Cromwell – 2007 – 26 minutes (winner for best made in Coney short at the 2007 Coney Island Film Festival)

Preserving the Best of the Boardwalk

November 11th, 2010

News that many of Coney Island’s Boardwalk businesses will not have their leases renewed has sparked an outcry among those who love Coney Island.

While Save Coney Island recognizes the importance of revitalizing Coney Island and making improvements to the Boardwalk, we feel strongly that any redevelopment should include the businesses that have helped sustain Coney Island during tough times. Save Coney Island believes that building on Coney Island’s existing strengths is preferable to a blank slate approach to redevelopment. Honoring Coney Island’s past is integral to efforts to give it a bright future.
Read more…

“Brooklyn Follies” is Bringing Back Zeigfeld-Era Glamour

November 11th, 2010

Several friends of Save Coney Island are putting together “Brooklyn Follies”– a special performance with dance and live music.  The show features the “Hot Toddy Dancers”, international burlesque sensations World Famous * BOB* (who will host the event) and Peekaboo Pointe, as well as additional surprise guests.

ONE DOZEN beautiful “HOT TODDY DANCERS” will shimmy and shake their way through a Fosse-style chair dance, a Turkish harem belly dance, and even a Hip-Hop Circus with a live tiger taming!

Where:  Galapagos Artspace, 16 Main St, DUMBO, Brooklyn
When:  November 14th, 2010, from 7:30-9:00 p.m.  (doors open at 6:30)
Read more…

Walking Tour on Sunday (last one!)

October 30th, 2010

Don’t miss your final chance this season to join us in our walking tour of historic Coney Island!  The guided tour will cover all the historic buildings along Surf Avenue, as well as Coney’s existing landmarks. We will discuss the famous history of the district and the importance of restoring its historic buildings in order to create a unique 21st Century Coney Island.

WHERE – In front of the Shore Theater, on the corner of Surf and Stillwell Aves
WHEN – Sunday, October 31st at 11:00 am (and every Sunday thereafter through the end of October; rain or shine)

FREE! (but suggested donation of $10 appreciated)

All comers get a free Save Coney Island button and a copy of our brand new Save Coney Island map!  (while supplies last!)

Forward this to a friend!  As always, thanks for your support!

‘A Many Marxes March to Save Coney Island’s History,’ This Saturday (11 a.m.)

October 27th, 2010

Please join Save Coney Island this Saturday morning for a demonstration to preserve the amusement district’s endangered historic buildings.

Four of Coney Island’ s most historically significant buildings — three more than a century old — are in danger. Demolition appears imminent. Developer Thor Equities has thus far ignored the pleas of leading historic preservation groups.

We need to raise our voices and say that we want these …buildings saved.

One of the endangered buildings, the Henderson Music Hall, is where Harpo Marx made his stage debut, alongside his brothers Groucho and Gummo.

That’s why we’re giving our demonstration a Marx Brothers theme — ”A Many Marxes March to Save Coney Island’s History.”

PLEASE JOIN US!

WHEN: Saturday, Oct. 30, at 11 a.m.
Read more…