“Elephant Bazar Coney Island,” NYPL Wallach Division Picture Collection via NYPL Digital Collections
When Coney Island burst on the scene in the 1880s as “the People’s Playground,” becoming the last word in bawdy beachfront pleasure, every attraction was larger than life. But no attraction was as large as the “Elephantine Colossus,” a 12-story, 31-room, elephant-shaped hotel, stationed at Surf Avenue and West 12th Street. The elephant was a tin-clad wooden structure rising 150 feet high, and it was unlike any other elephant in the world: The animal’s forelegs featured a tobacco shop, its left lung was home to a museum, and visitors to the “cheek room” could look out of the elephant eyes to the ocean beyond.
Via NYC Ferry
The city will launch two new ferry routes by 2021, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday during his State of the City address. Staten Island and Coney Island will be added to the NYC Ferry system, providing a much faster commute to Manhattan for outer-borough New Yorkers. “It shouldn’t be this hard to get around in the greatest city in the world,” de Blasio said. “And so we’re giving people more and better options.” With the addition of the Staten Island route, all five boroughs will be a part of the NYC Ferry system by next year.
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Rendering via Concern for Independent Living
An affordable housing lottery launched on Wednesday at a mixed-use development located in Coney Island one block from both the beach and the recently-landmarked Riegelmann Boardwalk. The nine-story development at 3003 West 21st Street, dubbed Surf Vets Place, offers residents a 24-hour attended lobby, sun terrace, a fitness center, computer lounge, and party rooms. Qualifying New Yorkers earning 50 and 60 percent of the area median income can apply for the apartments, ranging from a $759/month one bedroom to a $1,289/month three-bedroom.
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Photo courtesy of the Alliance for Coney Island
For the first time in more than 20 years, Coney Island’s Mermaid Avenue, its main retail corridor, will light up for the holidays. Alexandra Silversmith, the Alliance for Coney Island‘s executive director, told us that the snowflake-themed display “invites shoppers to visit Mermaid Avenue and support our local merchants while simultaneously welcoming residents home.”
Developer John Catsimatidis hopes the Ocean Dreams project will eventually include three more towers, which require city approval. Rendering by Pace/Hill West Architects
Last spring, 6sqft revealed new renderings of grocery store king (Red Apple, Gristede’s) John Catsimatidis’ 425-unit Coney Island rental project at 3514 Surf Avenue known as Ocean Dreams. According to The Real Deal, Catsimatidis’ Red Apple Group secured a construction loan for $130 million from Bank of America for the project back in June. Now, the New York Times has reported that the pair of 21-story luxury apartment towers overlooking the Atlantic on the island’s western end has topped out and is scheduled to open next summer.
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Boynton’s Bicycle Railroad, via Wiki Commons
As Labor Day draws near and New Yorkers run to squeeze a few more beach days into the end of the summer, packed trains and ferries carry crowds to the city’s sandy shores. But, beachgoers of yore weren’t simply piling onto the Q train to get out to Coney Island. They reached the southern tip of Brooklyn via a much more zany (or visionary?) mode of conveyance: Boynton’s Bicycle Railroad. In the summer of 1890, Boynton’s Bicycle, so named because it featured two rails, one beneath the train and one above it, shuttled passengers between Gravesend and Coney Island via an abandoned section of the Sea Beach and Brighton Railroad.
The Story Rolls on This Way
Image: Luca Vanzella via Flickr
On the heels of news that Coney Island will be getting its first new hotel in 50 years, plans have surfaced for a 150,000-square-foot expansion of Luna Park that will bring new rides, food and arcade games. The faded but beloved seaside icon has been in the news recently for a renewed pace of development that many see as new promise for the area. A log flume ride, zip lines and a ropes course are coming to the block between Surf Avenue and the boardwalk and between West 15th and West 16th streets, with food, arcade games and seating planned for two more streets nearby. And according to NY1, developer PYE Properties has proposed a boutique hotel in the historic Shore Theater, a 1920s landmark that has fallen into disrepair and has been vacant since 1978, attracting the homeless and graffiti but little attention.
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Photo via Flickr/cc
Sure, there are plenty of rooftops to get your drink on this summer, but here’s a chance to do it with fireworks and fish. As part of the inaugural season of their new Ocean Wonders: Sharks! exhibit, Coney Island’s New York Aquarium is hosting late-night Friday and Saturday night rooftop parties during August and Labor Day weekend. The aquarium usually closes at 7pm, but for Summer Nights they’ll welcome guests until 10pm with cocktails and a fireworks display on the roof of their new building, as well as extended access to the nine new spaces, including a 40-foot-long immersive coral reef tunnel, a rare look into the underwater “Grand Canyon,” and a real hull from a local shipwreck.
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In May, 6sqft reported that outer-borough neighborhoods underserved by Citi Bike would get dockless bike-share programs this summer. On Tuesday, the city’s pilot officially kicked off in the Rockaways, the area around Fordham University in the Bronx, and the North Shore of Staten Island, and to make things more exciting, the city is also offering electric bikes (h/t NY Times). The Uber-owned Jump Bikes is providing dockless electric bikes that can reach speeds of up to 20 miles per hour with little user effort. The bikes will cost only a dollar or two and can be reserved and paid for in the Uber app.
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Photo via Shinya Suzuki’s Flickr
Ninety-five years to the day since it first opened, the Coney Island boardwalk has been officially designated by the Landmarks Preservation Commission as NYC’s 11th scenic landmark. The historic designation includes 2.7 miles of public beachfront, stretching from Coney Island’s West 37th Street to Brighton 15th Street in Brighton Beach. Since 2014, Council Member Mark Treyger has pushed for the boardwalk to be landmarked, but the commission repeatedly rejected the proposal.
“The Coney Island Boardwalk is as much a part of the culture as it is a part of the history of New York City,” LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan said in a press release Tuesday. “It is a beloved public space that embodies Coney Island’s democratic spirit and reflects our City’s values of tolerance, inclusivity and equity.”
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