Coney Island’s Luna Park held a ground breaking ceremony today, above, for a big new roller coaster called the Thunderbolt. The coaster, which is scheduled to open May 22, will be the first at the beachside amusement park since 1910 to include a loop, The Wall Street Journal reported. The ride will go as fast as 56 miles an hour with a 115-foot vertical drop, followed by a 100-foot vertical loop and five inversions.
The original Thunderbolt operated from 1925 to 1982, was sold to a fried chicken mogul and burned down, said the Journal. The ride was later made famous by Woody Allen’s 1977 film “Annie Hall,” and it was torn down in 2000 to make way for the Brooklyn Cyclones stadium.
Coney Island gardeners outraged over the razing of their garden to make way for the redevelopment of the landmarked Childs restaurant filed a lawsuit against the city today, according to a press release they sent us. The 16-year-old community garden on West 22nd Street was legally a park and Parks Department property, according to the statement.
The Boardwalk Community Garden, Coney Island and the New York City Community Garden Coalition filed an Article 78 petition challenging the environmental review and approval of the outdoor amphitheater project, which was championed by former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. They plan a press conference on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall at noon today to announce the lawsuit.
The New York Aquarium broke ground on its 57,000-square-foot shark hall today in Coney Island, the Daily News reports. “Ocean Wonders: Sharks!” will be wrapped in a sparkling wall made of small aluminum squares meant to resemble a wave. The $127,000,000 exhibit will feature more than 115 species of marine wildlife, including sharks, skates, rays and turtles. Forty-five sharks will live in the exhibit’s three 500,000-gallon main tanks. The three-story building will have a coral reef tunnel that gives visitors a 360-degree view of ocean life, in addition to a roof deck, classroom space and cafe. The aquarium also posted a fun 3-D model and virtual tour of the planned building, which is scheduled to open in 2016.
The aquarium planned to break ground on the new shark hall last year, but damage from Hurricane Sandy forced it to delay the project. Only half of the aquarium’s 14-acre complex has been usable since it reopened last May.
Time for a little holiday getaway. This four-bedroom, four-bath vacation home located in the Sea Gate area of Coney Island has some unusual and whimsical touches. It also happens to be owned by Emmanuel Garofalo, who The New York Daily News called a “known Gambino crime family mobster.”
There are a few chandeliers strewn about, but overall the feeling is cheerful, casual and bright, as one might expect of a seaside lair. There is an iridescent blue and black bath whose coloring recalls fish scales or mermaids. The tile in the master bath appears to be printed with faces from famous Italian art.
There is a parquet floor in the media room, and the entry hall has a leaded glass door and transoms and what appears to be a slate floor. The cabinetry’s pneumatic legs make the black and silver kitchen look as if it’s about to achieve liftoff.
The full City Council Thursday approved the proposal championed by outgoing Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz to turn Childs restaurant into an entertainment complex and public park. The $53,000,000 project, now called the Seaside Park and Community Art Center, will involve restoring the landmarked facade and building a 5,000 seat amphitheater, park and playground.
“By restoring this iconic section of the Boardwalk, Coney Island’s revitalization will continue, providing multiple cultural and educational benefits, as well as economic and residential advantages,” said the owner of the complex, iStar Financial, in an emailed statement.
Coney Island’s Community Board 13 voted against the plan, although their land use committee was in favor. The Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously supports it.
The City Planning Commission voted unanimously in support of outgoing Borough President Marty Markowitz’s plan to revamp the former Childs Restaurant in Coney Island and turn it into an amphitheater and upscale eatery, Brooklyn Paper reported.
However, local residents are less than thrilled about the plan, which will require $53,000,000 in city funds to transform the landmarked but dilapidated 89-year-old building. Neighborhood activists told the newspaper that the money would be better spent repairing Coney’s hurricane-shattered infrastructure, which still suffers from occasional heat and power outages, in addition to sewers that flood when it rains.
And others worried about the traffic and noise from the planned venue, which Markowitz hopes will host 40 concerts a year. The community board voted down Markowitz’s plan two months ago, and Landmarks approved it over the summer.
A Sleep Inn Hotel is going up at 2590 Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island, Amusing the Zillion reported. The Sleep Inn will have 12,989 square feet of space on a 13,000-square-foot lot.
The building will be four stories with 53 units, according to a new building application for which permits were issued in October. Based on photos from Amusing the Zillion, looks like the foundation is in and the walls are starting to rise. It will be the area’s “first new hotel in many decades,” said the blog.
The Coney Island Library re-opened today after Sandy with renovations that highlight the neighborhood’s history, like salvaged pieces of the boardwalk integrated into the ceiling and murals depicting its old theme parks. The Coney Island branch suffered the most damage of the six Brooklyn libraries pummeled during Hurricane Sandy, when five feet of flooding destroyed the first floor. The storm destroyed over 20,000 books, furniture, plumbing, electrical systems and HVAC. The $2,700,000 gut renovation added ADA-compliant features, a new ceiling that incorporates pieces of the destroyed boardwalk, photographic murals of early 20th century Coney Island, and two new public spaces and two meeting rooms. There’s also new children’s furniture, new computers and printers, and new staff work rooms and bathrooms. Westerman Construction and Beatty Harvey Coco Architects worked on the renovations.
See more photos of the new interiors after the jump!
Name: Former Herman Popper building Address: 1220 Surf Avenue Cross Streets: Stillwell Avenue and West 12th Street Neighborhood: Coney Island Year Built: 1904 Architectural Style: Renaissance Revival Architect: Perhaps E.H. Brinkerhoff, who did other buildings in the area for Popper Other works by architect: Many other buildings in Coney Island area Landmarked: No
The story: With a name like Herman Popper, what else could the man do but have a business on Coney Island? But Herman Popper was not a showman, or an entertainer, or owner of one of Coney’s many entertainment diversions. He was a purveyor of that substance that could make any place or occasion a Coney Island of the mind — he distilled, and was a wholesale distributor of liquor.
His business predates this building by almost 20 years, and he was a Coney Island fixture way back in the 1880s, when Gravesend and Coney Island were still debating the future of the beach community, and rich folks were traveling to the shore to take in the cooling breezes, walk along the beach, and stay at the enormous resort hotels that were being built in Coney Island and the adjoining communities along the shore.
Popper was a friend and crony of John McKane, the notorious boss of Coney Island. While all the swells were enjoying the hotels and the beach, McKane was behind the scenes, wheeling and dealing with the town, land owners, the hotel owners, and anyone who had a business, or wanted to open a business in Coney Island. Between the 1870s and end of the 1880s, he was the Man. He was notoriously corrupt, even by New York standards, and Herman Popper was one of his cohorts, supplying booze to most of the dive bars and saloons on the infamous Bowery, the seedy strip of ill repute that had grown up in Coney Island along with the more innocuous entertainment. (more…)
Community Board 13 voted down Borough President Marty Markowitz’s plan to convert the landmarked Childs Restaurant on Surf Avenue, the Daily News reports. The board voted 14 to seven against the plan to build a community arts center with a 5,000-seat amphitheater, a lawn behind it that can fit 2,000, and a restaurant. Board members said they were worried about traffic, noise from the concerts, and the projected $53,000,000 price tag. Markowitz said he was “disappointed” by the vote, especially after the Community Board 13 land-use committee approved the redevelopment 10 to one. As the Daily News points out, the board’s ruling is “merely advisory,” and City Planning will most likely vote to approve the plan next month. The LPC unanimously supported the plan back in July to transform the theater, which was built in 1923 and has been neglected since the restaurant closed in 1947.
Community Board 13 is meeting tonight to discuss Marty Markowitz’s pet project for a $51,000,000 amphitheater and arts center inside the landmarked Child’s Restaurant on Surf Avenue in Coney Island. Community organizers are urging residents to come out and testify in support of the community garden next to the former restaurant, which could be bulldozed for the 5,000-seat theater. Local gardeners have just finished reviving the Coney Island Boardwalk Garden in the wake of Sandy’s destruction, and they don’t want to see it bulldozed for a new development. It was designated permanent “Parks Open Space” in a settlement between the City and the Attorney General’s office in 2002, when more than a dozen gardens were threatened with demolition in 2002. The meeting is 7 p.m. tonight at Coney Island Hospital in the 2nd floor auditorium.
Nathan’s is, of course, a Brooklyn institution. In its long history, its hot dogs have been fed to presidents, kings, and movie stars; more importantly, to millions of everyday Joes and Janes, who have made it the unofficial signature food of the city. You can sneer at it for its common-ness, dismiss it as junk food, or try to substitute it with tofu, but there’s no escaping the fact that Nathan’s is something special to all that is Brooklyn.
The story is a familiar rags to riches, immigrant success story. Nathan’s Famous began in the mind of an enterprising Polish immigrant named Nathan Handwerker. Prior to 1916, he was working at the famous Feltman’s German Gardens, an immensely popular restaurant on Coney Island. Charles Feltman was another success story, a German immigrant who came to the US in 1856 at the age of fifteen. His Coney Island career started with a food pushcart on the beach, but by the early 1900’s, that push cart had grown into an empire that took up an entire city block. Feltman’s entertainment and restaurant complex contained nine restaurants, a beer garden, two enormous bars, a carousel, a roller coaster, an outdoor movie theater, a hotel, a ballroom, a bathhouse, a pavilion, a maple garden and a Tyrolean village. He was now a millionaire many times over.
Today, few people remember the enormity of his business, but they do remember that here in New York, he is credited for the invention of the hot dog. (There are other contenders.) He would later comment that his decision to put a sausage on a roll was not an attempt to invent something new, but was just an expedient way of serving the meat, one that didn’t need expensive silverware, or even a plate. He sold his frankfurters for ten cents, and they quickly became the most popular item on his menu. (more…)