Image via creative commons by Mark Hout
If visiting Coney Island has long been on your list of NYC to-dos, this weekend might be the best weekend to head down to the famed beach and boardwalk. On top of what will be gorgeous weather, per the Coney Island Blog, the amusement park’s iconic wooden roller coaster will be offering FREE rides to 89 thrill-seekers. The roller coaster, which normally costs $10 a go, will kick off its promo Sunday at noon in celebration of its 89th birthday (it opened June 26, 1927). So hold onto your hats—and your lunches—and be sure to take some time to absorb the history of this inimitable destination.
The city may be having an unseasonably warm December, but it’s fair to say most New Yorkers still find it a bit too chilly for the beach. Members of the famed Coney Island Polar Bear Club, on the other hand, relish the drop in temperature as they head out for an ocean swim.
The Polar Bear Club is a New York institution dating back to 1903. While the organization is renowned for its annual New Year’s Day swim where New Yorkers gather to welcome the year with a chilly dip, it’s far from the only time the club embraces the cold water. In fact, they meet 12 times throughout the winter months and draw a sizable membership that’s a mix of ages, backgrounds, and cultures from the metropolitan area and beyond.
At the club’s helm is president Dennis Thomas, who fell in love with Coney Island years ago and later discovered the serenity of swimming on brisk days. More than thirty years after he first became a member, Dennis spoke with 6sqft about the Polar Bear Club’s history, what a typical swim is like, and what happens when hundreds of New Yorkers turn out for a New Year’s Day swim that supports Camp Sunshine.
Read the interview here
, Mon, September 28, 2015
Image © Daniel Fleming
Eminent domain, defined as “the right of a government or its agent to expropriate private property for public use,” is typically enacted to build projects such as bridges, highways, or schools. But the De Blasio administration plans to use it to erect an amusement park. According to the Post, the city is “frustrated by stubborn Coney Island landowners” and “plans to seize property under the city’s rarely used power of eminent domain in order to spur long-stalled economic development in the People’s Playground.” The land in question is three vacant beachfront sites and two smaller adjacent sites on West 12th and West 23rd Streets that total 75,000 square feet, largely comprised of the 60,000-square-foot site where the original Thunderbolt once stood (immortalized in Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall”). Under the plan, the Parks Department will oversee new amusements and amenities, details of which haven’t been shared.
, Tue, September 15, 2015
In 1906, architect Samuel Friede announced his plans to build the Coney Island Globe Tower, a 700-foot-tall, 11-story structure that would have contained the Brooklyn neighborhood’s attractions in one giant globe in the air. A New York Tribune cover revealing the project said investors were being offered “a ground floor chance to share profits in the largest steel structure ever erected…the greatest amusement enterprise in the whole world…the best real estate venture.”
Had the $1,500,000 plan gone through, the whimsical structure (part Unisphere, part Eiffel Tower) would have contained restaurants (one of which would rotate), an observatory, the United States Weather Observation Bureau and Wireless Telegraph Station, a vaudeville theater, the world’s largest ballroom, bowling alley, roller skating rink, casinos, 50,000-room hotel, 5,000-seat hippodrome, and a four large circus rings.
Read the rest of the history
“Coney Island, the world’s greatest fun frolic, with its beach miles long, all peppered with people. The place where merriment is king.” That’s the opening line in this fun video that offers a tour of 1940s Coney Island during its heyday as the go-to summer destination.
The narrator describes the millions of people on the boardwalk and beach, and while this might seem like an exaggeration at first, the footage clearly shows hordes of revelers sunbathing, swimming, lining up for the freakshow, and enjoying the rides (many of which probably wouldn’t be deemed safe today). There’s also great scenes of the Miss Coney Island contest (a swimsuit beauty pageant where the judge takes out the tape measurer for the contestants’ waists), the famous Cyclone, and Luna Park lit up at night.
Watch the nostalgic video here
- The Brooklyn Half Marathon is this Saturday; some streets will be closed and the race ends at the Coney Island boardwalk. Good luck to all! [Sheepshead Bites]
- Foreign money: This map shows the city’s Chinese-backed real estate developments. [Curbed]
- As “Mad Men” signs off, a bench outside the Time-Life Building in Midtown will immortalize Don Draper for the summer. [Pentagram]
- Six tiny NYC back yards prove you don’t need a lot of space to enjoy the al fresco life. [Dwell]
- How to properly Google your neighborhood and find all the scary stuff (assuming you really want to). [BrickUnderground]
Image: Don Draper bench installation (L); AirBnB Brooklyn Half via Facebook (R)
The story behind cheese-aging facility Crown Finish Caves in Crown Heights tells of an enormous amount of risk and dedication to making something on a small scale; to doing one thing well. It also once again stirs the hive of buzz around today’s Brooklyn. Article after article raises the idea that Brooklyn’s moment as the new hot spot for excellence in food, culture and authentic, hand-crafted goods, is in some quarters regarded as trite and trendy hype with little substance to it.
For some, the underground cheese caves are just one more example: Cheese caves. How Brooklyn. Thirty feet below street level, in the lagering tunnels of a former brewery beneath the Monti Building in Crown Heights, Benton Brown and Susan Boyle spent several years renovating and creating “Brooklyn’s premier cheese-aging facility” complete with state-of-the-art humidity control and cooling systems. The couple created the 70-foot space with advice from the world’s top cheese experts; Crown Finish Caves opened in 2014. On an article in Cheese Notes, a commenter raves: “If I were a mouse, I would move to Crown Heights.”
More excellence and authenticity this way
, Thu, September 25, 2014
Image © Javier Ignacio Acuña Ditzel
Coney Island is an entertainment destination in New York, with its beach and amusement park rides, but it is also a city center for weirdo culture and kitsch. The neighborhood’s aesthetic has developed into something like an early 20th century carnival surrounded by ’60s and ’70s storefronts which may or may not be conscious of their dated designs. So the question is, how do you design a new building in a neighborhood which is so identified with an attractively shabby, authentically dated look? Buildings like the Coney Island Museum face that difficulty with each passing year.
See the retro Americana design of Coney Island here
While going green has more or less become the norm in most modern day construction in New York, some projects have really outdone themselves from the ingenuity of design to the sheer scale of size. This is a city where the new police academy will harness the power of re-usable rainwater, and where the Barclays Center‘s arena roof is being covered with 130,000 square feet of new garden space. New York is placing itself at the forefront of green design and green construction, and here are just eight of the biggest green projects happening right now.
The top green developments in the city this way
When Coney Island was torn up in 2010 to make way for the glitzy new Luna Park, a part of its history was ripped out: the weathered, decades-old planks of the beach’s iconic boardwalk. Luckily, two Red Hook-based designers — Jason Horvath and Bill Hilgendorf of Uhuru Design — took in the landfill-destined wood and used them to build functional pieces for the home.
Check out more of the cool pieces