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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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.
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Photo via mamojo
Four outer-borough neighborhoods undeserved by Citi Bike will host dockless bike-share programs this summer, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday. In July, the city’s pilot kicks off in the beach communities of Coney Island and the Rockaways. The Bronx and Staten Island will also have the bike-share program, a first for both boroughs, near Fordham University and on the North Shore. “We are bringing new, inexpensive transportation options to neighborhoods that need them,” de Blasio said in a statement. “Dockless public bike sharing starts this summer, and we’re excited to see how New Yorkers embrace this new service.”
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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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Steeplechase Park circa 1930-45, via Digital Commonwealth
Steeplechase Park was the first of Coney Island‘s three original amusement parks (in addition to Luna Park and Dreamland) and its longest lasting, operating from 1897 to 1964. It had a Ferris Wheel modeled after that of Chicago’s World’s Columbian Exposition, a mechanical horse race course (from which the park got its name), scale models of world landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben, “Canals of Venice,” the largest ballroom in the state, and the famous Parachute Jump, among other rides and attractions.
After World War II, Coney Island’s popularity began to fade, especially when Robert Moses made it his personal mission to replace the resort area’s amusements with low-income, high-rise residential developments. But ultimately, it was Fred Trump, Donald’s father, who sealed Steeplechase’s fate, going so far as to throw a demolition party when he razed the site in 1966 before it could receive landmark status.
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New renderings have been revealed showing real estate mogul John Catsimatidis‘ Coney Island rental project at 3514 Surf Avenue known as Ocean Dreams, shown here courtesy of CityRealty. The American Institute of Architecture (AIA), which is currently taking votes for their People’s Choice award in Brooklyn, has included the 425-unit rental complex among the contenders. The building is being developed by Catsimatidis’ Red Apple Group. Catsimatidis, who has big dreams indeed for the development, proposed a trolley-like streetcar service to access the Stillwell Avenue subway station, and once said he wanted to make the development look like Miami Beach.
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Image: Shinya Suzuki via Flickr
After repeatedly declining to protect the celebrated walkway–even as its wooden planks become increasingly replaced with concrete and plastic as a result of Superstorm Sandy repairs–the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has agreed to add the historic Coney Island Boardwalk to the agency’s list of properties to consider for protected status, according to remarks made at a LPC hearing Thursday, Crain’s reports. LPC chair Meenakshi Srinivasan said the boardwalk–its official name is the Riegelmann Boardwalk–could be protected as early as this spring or summer.
It could happen in time for summer
Rendering of Coney Island North Venture via The Prusik Group
It’s slated to be a big year for Coney Island–and not just when it comes to new rides and attractions. A massive development will join the growing redevelopment of the beachfront locale, which will be home to at least four major projects totaling 2,151 units in the coming years. According to CityRealty, Taconic Investment Partners and The Prusik Group are planning to build a ground-up, mixed-use complex tentatively referred to as “Coney Island North Venture.” It’ll be comprised of 1,000 apartments, 80,000 square feet of office space, and 150,000 square feet of retail along Surf Avenue. The complex will join a new 42-story tower, plus a 440-unit development that will boast its very own trolley.
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