Feltman’s via Boston Public Library
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.
Find out how the Coney Island hot dog got its start
Photo by Chun-Hung Eric Cheng on Flickr
While most of New York City’s annual summer activities and celebrations have been canceled or postponed this year because of the coronavirus, one event will still take place. Nathan’s Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest will forge ahead in Coney Island on July 4, but with no fans, fewer eaters, and social distancing measures in place.
Photo by Shinya Suzuki on Flickr
Owners of six small businesses in Coney Island, Lola Star Boutique, Nathan’s Famous, Ruby’s Bar & Grill, Paul’s Daughter, Tom’s Restaurant, and the Coney Island Beach Shop, are currently negotiating new 10-year lease agreements with amusement park operator Zamperla. The New York Times reported on Wednesday that the boardwalk businesses are facing rent increases of between 50 and 400 percent each. “We care about Coney Island and its future, and we are dedicated to making it as strong a community as possible,” Alessandro Zamperla, the president of the company, told the Times. “This is why we’ve been working with our tenants to ensure their success and preserve the character of Coney Island.” Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has not come forward with a plan to mediate; according to the newspaper, the rent increases do not violate the agreement between Zamperla and the city.
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View of 1517 Surf Avenue; Photo courtesy of Ace Aerial
The owner of a 100-year-old Italian restaurant in Coney Island has agreed to lease the establishment’s neighboring parking lot to a luxury real estate developer. Gargiulo’s Restaurant owner Louis Russo filed a 99-year ground lease for the lot at 1517 Surf Avenue, located about one block from the boardwalk, with developer LCOR, as first reported by the Brooklyn Paper. According to the developer, plans will likely involve a mixed-income residential development and ground-floor retail.
Get the details
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.
Taking names, this way
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
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.
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.
Go behind-the-scenes at the Wonder Wheel