A number of small businesses on Coney Island’s landmarked boardwalk are facing major rent hikes, possibly threatening their ability to remain open. According to the Brooklyn Paper, six shops, including long-standing hangouts Ruby’s Bar and Grill and Tom’s Restaurant, could see a 500 percent increase in rent from Zamperla, the company that operates the amusement park. The potential increase has revived the group “Save Coney Island,” which advocates for the preservation of the neighborhood’s mom-and-pop shops.
The new log flume ride. Photo Credit: NYCEDC
Luna Park, home of the Coney Island Cyclone and Steeplechase, will welcome three new attractions–a ropes course, a log flume ride and a roller coaster–next year. The iconic seaside amusement park has turned to the public to name the new additions, which are set to open in 2020, AM New York reports.
Photo via Flickr cc
What do Woody Guthrie, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and Frank Schubert (the nation’s last civilian lighthouse keeper) have in common? They all lived in Sea Gate, a private community at the westernmost tip of Coney Island. Sea Gate began as a 19th-century playground for the rich, turned into a hotbed of Yiddish literature and Socialist labor activism in the 1930s, and sported at least one commune in the early ‘70s. Today, Sea Gate is home to about 8,000 residents who enjoy private beaches and expansive views of the Verrazano Bridge.
If you want to “get in the Gate,” as the locals say, but aren’t ready to relocate west of the Wonder Wheel, you can snag a summer membership at the Sea Gate Beach Club, where even non-residents can while away the hours under a cabana. Or, you can read on for the history of a Coney Island beach town you’ve probably never been to.
Photos via the New York Transit Museum
This weekend, both history buffs and New Yorkers looking to hit the beach can ride on one of the NY Transit Museum’s vintage subway cars. Part of the museum’s “Nostalgia Rides,” on Saturday, passengers can board 1910s BMT B-Type Standards and 1930s IND R1-9 cars and ride them from the 96th Street/2nd Avenue station in Manhattan all the way to Coney Island. Find out more
Operators of Coney Island’s Luna Park will lead retail transformation of the Stillwell Avenue Terminal Complex, Wed, July 10, 2019
Image via Wiki Commons
Since taking over operations of Luna Park in 2010, Central Amuseument International (CAI) has had a big hand in the transformation of the neighborhood, and that will continue to increase. Following a Request for Proposals (RFP) last June, the MTA has just announced that CAI Foods—a subsidiary of CAI—will lead a retail conversion of Coney Island’s iconic Stillwell Avenue Terminal Complex. CAI will take over nine of the 11 retail units in the Complex, turning the largest into “Rcade,” an arcade with a restaurant, bar, and coffee shop that will be open year-round. The remaining units will be subleased on a seasonal basis.
Feltman’s via Boston Public Library
It’s not often that you’ll go to a New York restaurant and find “hot dog” on the menu. The meaty delight is typically reserved for baseball games (in the foot-long variety) and summertime jaunts on the boardwalk. And of course, when we say boardwalk in NYC, we’re talking about Coney Island, widely believed to be the birthplace of the modern American frankfurter.
The name Nathan’s has become synonymous with Coney Island, whether it be for the annual hot dog-eating contest or the childhood nostalgia of the boardwalk. It’s also become arguably the biggest name in the hot dog world in general. But, believe it or not, Nathan’s was not the first place to serve up franks in the seaside neighborhood. That distinction goes to Feltman’s, which was begun in 1867 as a pushcart by German immigrant Charles Feltman, considered the inventor of the hot dog on a bun.
Image via Flickr
The 37th annual Mermaid Parade kicks off in Coney Island this Saturday, signaling the official start of the summer season. Celebrated as the largest “art parade” in the country, the festive lineup features marching bands, drill teams, floats, antique cars and some 1,500 participants dressed in handmade costumes of mermaids, sea creatures, and mythical figures. This year, Coney Island natives Arlo Guthrie & Nora Guthrie—who both grew up on Mermaid Avenue—will lead the way as Queen Mermaid and King Neptune. Per tradition, they’ll be wheeled through in an antique wicker Boardwalk Rolling Chair dating back to 1923.
The Wonder Wheel with no cars installed; photos © James and Karla Murray
Honoring a 60-year tradition of opening on Palm Sunday, Coney Island Amusement Park will be back in business this Sunday, April 14th. One of the many activities will be the annual blessing of the rides at Deno’s Wonder Wheel. The 150-foot-tall, 100-year-old structure is one of the most iconic pieces remaining at Coney Island. But there’s a lot that goes into this seasonal opening than even the most well-versed New Yorker may not know. Each winter, the 200-ton ride is repainted, and all of its 24 cars are removed. But come spring, second-generation co-owner Steve Vourderis goes through the process of precisely reinstalling and aligning the cars. We were lucky enough to visit Steve and his brother Dennis on a recent frigid Sunday to watch the magic happen.
Photo by Jim McDonnell
Keeping with more than 60 years of tradition, the Coney Island Amusement Park will open for the season next month on Palm Sunday. To kicks things off on April 14, historian Charles Denson will lead a tour of the Riegelmann Boardwalk, which was designated a scenic landmark last year. The opening day celebration continues the following weekend with an Immigrant Heritage Tour of Coney Island, with stops at Nathan’s Famous, founded by Polish immigrant Nathan Handwerker and Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, purchased by Greek immigrant Denos D. Vouderis as a wedding ring for his wife.
“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.