Can-can

“How could I have not known?” are the words that continued to bounce around my thought process while walking through Brookfield Place. The poster and signs all congratulated the organization for their 25th year of the competition. “But how?” I thought to myself, wondering how something to exceptional and amazing could be so close to me in proximity yet so far away in reality since I hadn’t known of its existence. How was it that I only stumbled upon something of such grandeur only a few months ago? I enjoyed every second that I spent there, allowing every dynamic to dance around my thoughts. But I couldn’t help but think about all the years I wasted; the years I didn’t get to see the exhibit in reality. Regardless of how much I wish or beg, I will never be able to get those years back; the only thing I can do is enjoy the current exhibit and its potential for future years.

Brookfield Place

According to the Canstruction Nation Headquarters website, Canstruction began in 1992 by a woman named Cheri Melillo as a collaborative idea with her fellow colleagues. Together, they created an idea to bridge the gap between architects, engineers, and contractors. Each of these professions are connected but don’t really interact with each other; they just coexist in the vast world of design and construction. Melillo saw a problem with the lack of interaction but, also, saw a solution to make the worlds collide and begin to form a better and more comfortable relationship with one another. Canstruction officially made its debut in 1992, taking place in Denver, CO and Seattle, WA before the New York chapter opened on November 13, 1993.

the Canstruction Poster

Canstruction is a competition in which groups of architects, engineers, and contractors (licenced, students, and graduates, alike) build structures completely out of canned goods. Yes, those old fruit cocktails and tuna fish cans in back of your pantry are turned into art. Maybe more enjoyable than the taste, these sculptures stand in the space for a limited time; displayed for everyone’s amusement. After the awards are given and the competition runs its course, the cans are then donated to a local food drive; in our case it all goes to City Harvest. Twenty-five years after the competition’s conception, Canstruction has grown into a massive organization, its compassion spreading to over two hundred cities all over the world and donating about fifty million pounds of food.

Canstruction Sculpture

“We CAN Coexist” by RAND Engineering & Architecture, DPC

Canstruction Sculpture

“Beauty and the Feast” by Gannett Fleming

Canstruction Sculpture

“Fearless in the Face of Hunger” by Simpson Gumpertz & Heger

Canstruction Sculpture

“Out of the Tunnel, In CANsit” by Thornton Tomasetti

This year marks the tenth year of the exhibit’s location at Brookfield Place. Twenty-six different groups entered their own renditions of can sculptures and they were dispersed around the property; weaved in between the commerce and lobbies, inciting droves of people to surround these structures. The creativity stunned me so thoroughly, that I don’t think I could pick a favorite. Each structure was unique and had its own respective qualities that I found favorable.

Canstruction Sculpture

“Heart to Heart” by Dattner Architects

Canstruction Sculpture

“PAC-CAN” by Perkins Eastman/DREAM

a Canstruction Sculpture of a pretzel

“Tying the Knot” by NV5

Canstruction Sculpture

“Game of Buildings – Winter Is Coming, Feed the Hungry” by Metropolis Group, Inc.

Although Melillo wasn’t able to see the growth of her organization since her tragic passing in 2009, I guarantee that she would be proud to know how much her work has induced the design and construction worlds to continue mingling with one another.

Canstruction Sculptures

Main floor CANstructures

Who knew that a simple can had the ability to connect people at such a grand scale…

The Future of Landmark Theatre

Last week, I discussed Sunshine Cinema which is a part of the Landmark Theatre independent movie chain. This week, I would like to venture deeper into the history of the chain, itself, and its current New York City chapter.

 

Parallax Theatres (previous name for Landmark Theatres) was conjured by a man named Kim Jorgensen in 1974. Jorgensen is an American film director from Copenhagen, Denmark and started his own theatre chain for independent films and everything alike. The first theatre opened in 1974 under the management of Jorgensen. With the use of an old movie theatre he housed the first of many Landmark Theatres.

According to Cinema Treasures, Nuart Theatre was built in 1930 and had an occupant capacity of 600; it opened its doors for the first time in 1931. Fox West Coast Theatres owned the space from 1941 until their departure from the lot in 1954. In the early 1970’s Jorgensen set prey on the space, purchasing it and making it his own cinematic paradise. It was more than just a theatre, it was a concept; a concept that was lacking in the American movie industry. He introduced to the country an art house theatre that was so versatile that it was bound to be loved by many. It wasn’t exclusive to the movies that were financially pumped with propaganda and almost destined to succeed with gross profits. It showed the films that were under-funded and under-advertised giving them a chance to be seen. The outcome was grand, which ultimately led to the concept growing into something bigger than the old theatre on Santa Monica Boulevard.

In 1989 Jorgensen sold his company to Todd Wagner (movie producer) and Mark Cuban (yes, the Shark Tank guy) and together they manage the chain under 2929 Entertainment.  Now, Landmark Theatres has fifty-six theatres dotting the country in 30 different cities.

The move into VIA 57 West seemed only innate since the main concept of the space was to create this type of self-dependent community that satisfies all types of everyday necessities and common pleasures.

The building, itself, was completed in 2016 and has already began to house people.

I’m not sure if this is just incidentally ironic, but the entire esthetic of the building was based upon the classic Copenhagen dwelling complex which is strangely reminiscent to Jorgensen’s cultural background. BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) made the building to surround a courtyard in which all the services and trades would reside. One of the corners reaches for the sky like every other skyscraper in its surrounding. It towers over four hundred fifty feet in the air; this enables the inhabitants with clear views of the Hudson river.

At the foot of the structure lies the new cinematic neighbor, Landmark Theatre. It just opened its doors to the public on September 15, 2017. In its short life, it has already seen Q&A conferences with well known authors, directors, producers, and actors/actresses. Growing in potential and gaining popularity, the small theatre with 8 auditoriums, continues to flourish. It still holds that main concept of giving much needed light on the quickly over-looked and underappreciated films while capturing the most avant-garde approach to the movie theatre experience.

Although this new move means the close of one chapter, it also opens vast possibilities on an uncharted territory. May the young Landmark Theatre see as many good times as Sunshine Cinema did in retrospect. Only time will tell the true potential of the new location and new face of Landmark Theatres.

Roll Film!

On the Lower East Side resides the beloved Sunshine Cinema. It lives nestled in the East Village, serving the lovers of indie films. It has seen years of popcorn, sodas, stolen kisses between the aisles, laughter, suspenseful gasps, quiet sobs, and so much more. Drenched in history and love from the regulars, this theatre deserves to be known. There is more that meets the eye with Sunshine Theatre; it might look contemporary with a tongue-in-cheek type of reassurance to the more classic style of older movie houses, simply because it is. But below the entire building lies the richest soil of cinematic antiquity.

According to Cinema Treasures, way back in 1898, on the exact location of Sunshine Cinema, stood its first cinematic predecessor; it was called the Houston Hippodrome. This theatre showed Yiddish vaudeville (song and dance shows; burlesque) films and performances. By 1916, the building was closed and demolished, ultimately making space for a new theatre to take its place. It opened in 1917 and could seat six hundred people at maximum occupant capacity; it was called Chopin Theatre. It stayed in business until its unfortunate closure in 1945. Due to the decline of the economy, common businesses of pleasure were weeded out of society. The lot was then turned into a hardware warehouse. For about fifty years the old theatre was an over-sized container for supposedly more necessary things; its true potential, hidden underneath loads of a variation of metals, plastics, and paper.

In the late 1990’s, it was proposed to be revitalized as a theatre once again; releasing the lot back to its innate state. Landmark Theatres took the proposal, making a New York City chapter of the well known independent movie theatre chain; they would call this theatre, Sunshine Cinema. After three years and twelve million dollars of renovation, Tony Pleskow, Tom Rael, Lorenz F.J. Weiher under the Pleskow + Rael architectural firm, designed the interior, and TK architects, provided the structural design; together they finished the theatre. Sunshine Cinema opened its bronze clad doors to the public on December 21, 2001.

The cinema house has more to offer than classic theatre munchies, decent stadium style auditoriums, and a basic circulation. Everything was well-planned; creating a multi-dimensional movie experience. The ground floor houses the cafe/concession area; suited with bistro-style chairs and tables. Japanese rock gardens are dispersed throughout the space creating a calming effect to the customers as if walking through those doors were supposed to take you on a journey through time and space, placing you in a realm beyond the average New York City “hustle and bustle”. Like a quiet haven, Sunshine Cinema provides New Yorkers a place to reestablish their sanity with necessary time away from their normal busy lives.

Unfortunately, it has been announced that Sunshine Cinema will be closing when the lease expires in January 2018. The building has already been sold to the K Property Group for thirty-one million five hundred thousand dollars. The Group plans to renovate the space, making it suitable for a mixed use of office and retail. Landmark Theatre, itself, has officially and successfully moved to a new location on West 57th street inside of BIG’s (Bjarke Ingels Group) VIA.

Eventually, January will arrive and Sunshine Cinema will have to close its doors indefinitely. For those who are saddened to depart with the cherished theatre, all hope is not lost. We have not a clue what the future holds and this lot has always had a way of rediscovering its inherent nature of being a theatre regardless of time and social adversary. In a few months we will have to say our final goodbyes to Sunshine Cinema or at least goodbye for now…

A Scoop of… History

The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, known for its delectable frozen treats all year round. It resides juxtaposed the Fulton Ferry Landing, serving customers along the piers of Brooklyn Bridge Park. It’s a short walk from CityTech’s campus, in fact it only took me around ten minutes to walk to the beloved ice cream shop. Due to its close proximity, I find that it’s a go-to place for down time or time away from the busy college campus.

The building that holds all the tasty treats was once a fireboat house for the New York City Fire Department’s Marine Company 7. According to Cory Seamer, It was built in 1926 with clapboard, the tower on top of the house was used as a lookout. As time went on the station was used less and less before just amounting to a place to hang-dry hoses; like that piece of equipment in your house that has been reduced to only being used as a coatrack. The station then was revitalized into a museum called the Fulton Ferry Museum, National Maritime Historical Society and stayed in this state from 1976 up until 1982. After facing near demolishment to make way for new construction, the small boat house was named a landmark due to it’s grand significance.

In 2001, nearly two months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Mark Thompson took his chance as an owner in the restaurateur profession and opened the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory to the public. Sixteen years later and another location available to Brooklynites in Greenpoint, the ice cream shop is still going strong.

After buying the ice cream (because I had to do my complete research for the enrichment of the post), My travel buddy for this post, Brianna, and I ventured outside to find some natural seating. We walked along the piers in the 70 degree breeze while spooning globs of rich frozen goodness that I can swear was made from the gods. We finally settled down on a large lawn and overlooked the New York City skyline. After our clothes soaked in all the fresh-cut grass smell and Brianna swatted the fifth mosquito off her face, we decided it was time to retreat back to the city’s civilization.

It wasn’t too expensive; a double scoop dish was only $7. The price is reasonable to me since the ice cream is just that good; there’s no other way to put it.

Tune in tomorrow to hear Brianna’s side of the story and get a complete breakdown of the most delicious ice cream I have ever tasted.

#WhyIWrite

Funds were always tight while I was growing up, so to entertain ourselves we didn’t have the new and hottest toys on the market. While everyone raved about PlayStation and Xbox, we were perfectly happy with vintage 1990’s Super Nintendo (still is my favorite of all gaming systems). While other kids were obsessed with cable television shows, we were completely fine with Z100 and a deck of cards, singing the most current jams while making our own stories before falling into never ending abysses of laughter. As I grew older, times grew harder as well. I became more protective of sharing my feelings and my only escape was writing. Even though I was absolutely terrible at writing, I kept practicing; reading different styles of writing to help me find my own. The more I wrote, the better I got; eagerly crafting my own style and ultimately finding my own voice. If only for a small moment I could go somewhere else, entranced and tangled in my own plots and analyses, my time and effort would all be worth it.

Image Credit: Sabrina Vasquez

Now, I hope that I can somehow be that escape to others like how my favorite authors were to me. That for a moment… a mere second… all your worries fade to the background and you can just be in the present. If words has the power to change someone’s emotion or overall perspective on a situation, what else could they possibly do?

The Fulton Ferry Landing

How many films were shot at this iconic spot overlooking the East River?  Movies like “The Adjustment Bureau” was filmed here, or my personal favorite “The Perfect Man”. It was there that Heather Locklear stood awaiting a man she had met and fell in love with over the internet,  only to be unfortunately surprised when her sixteen year old daughter showed up in his place; ultimately revealing herself as a catfish. Would that crucial scene be the same if it were set in another location? Would the last run for their lives by Matt Damon and Emily Blunt in “The Adjustment Bureau” be the same if hadn’t made a stop at the landing? Apart from movies, the Fulton Ferry Landing remains a very important piece of Brooklyn.

Although I’m not the biggest fan of DUMBO I always found the small pier very interesting. It was unlike the rest of the area; soaked in a rich history that was as visible as fog lights. All of the other piers seemed to have changed with the time with time; becoming more modernized with each renovation. But the ferry landing seemed to always keep its character regardless of the amendments or refurbishment; it added more memories without departing from its history which is very admirable. Despite how many site analyses, inventories, pictures, or any other form of studies I have taken on the landing, I have never written about it until now.

The landing dates all the way back to the 1600’s when the Dutch settlement blew into town, ultimately taking the land from the Native Americans. They ported their large boats right by the piers that line Furman Street now. Stealing the land the Native Americans called Ihpetonga meaning “the high sandy bank”.

On August 29th, 1776, US soldiers was led to this ground by General George Washington for the the Battle of Long Island (aka Battle of Brooklyn Heights).

Robert Fulton (Whom I have mentioned in a previous post) is immortalized in plenty different areas in New York City. In Brooklyn, alone, we have  two different Fulton Streets; Fulton Street which houses Fulton Mall (also mentioned in a previous post) and Old Fulton which is the cross street to the location of the Fulton Ferry Landing also named after Robert Fulton. His name is so regular around this part of Brooklyn since he invented the steamboat in 1814, bridging the gap between Brooklyn and Manhattan before there was a bridge.

Some of the safety rails that line the landing are inscribed with words. These words are excerpts from a Brooklyn poet by the name of Walt Whitman, his name is also throughout this part of Brooklyn. His poem ”Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” was written as he overlooked the East River, analyzing the circulation of people in daily motion and fantasizing of what the future would bring to the area. As the steamboat ferries came in and out of the port, he proposed a series of questions and thought analysis of his prediction. He wrote it unbeknownst of the true outcome and he would never know but all that mattered in the poem was his undying curiosity and optimism of what potentially could become of the area in the next fitty or one hundred years. The Poem was published in 1856 then again in 1860 as a part of his “Leaves of Grass” collection; it made its debut as “Sun Down Poem”.

The Fulton Ferry Landing also happens to be a go-to destination for romance as it has seen countless proposals and weddings. Although it has been outlawed, there are locks on the guardrails, signifying the love of numerous couples

I like to think that Whitman was right in a way; that certain things stayed the same and others progressed. Boats still port in and out of the dock; leaving people to circulate over the landing. The wooden floorboards sees countless footsteps everyday from all walks of life. I wonder if the landing is as busy as Whitman’s depiction. Whenever i am on the landing, I think of the inhabitants of Brooklyn from the early 1600’s to now and how separated we are by such an ambiguous medium like time; I question myself “… How are we different?” but more importantly “… How are we the same?”

The Parachute Jump

This will be the last installment of my adventures in Coney Island. The Parachute Jump might not be the oldest thing in Luna Park but it still holds some type of deep connotation of Brooklyn in our minds. As if seeing that wiry frame from afar, blazoned with lights, illuminating the night sky, was the Eiffel Tower of Brooklyn; symbolically telling visitors “You’ve arrived, welcome.” and to the Brooklynites “You’re Home.” Nothing beats the first time seeing the Parachute Jump light up the Coney Island skyline. It makes you think of how much you’d rather be there, right in front of it; curiosity over-taking every thought you could possibly concept. “…. I need to be there” I would sometimes whisper to myself as if its presence would make be feel better, happier, more like myself. It’s the nostalgia that calms me every time I see it. Like the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, it lulls every stress away, ultimately bringing me to a simpler time in my life. Such simplicity and innocence that is now coveted but also forgotten for the most part.

The Parachute Jump all began with the World Fair of 1939 in Flushing Meadows, Queens. The fair had seven zones of how to make the normal American’s life improved. In the amusement section, there stood The Parachute Jump created by a man by the name of James Strong of the U.S. Navy. He had already made several variations of the jump; first as a naval training device then in Chicago’s World Fair in 1936 which debuted the “Pair-O-Chutes”. This model was two hundred feet tall and was a remodel of an old observatory tower that was there prior to the Fair. It had six arms that could carry two passengers for each drop. It was major success and that led to it being asked to also feature in the World Fair in New York. So in 1939, Strong built the Parachute Jump at a height of two hundred fifty feet with twelve arms instead of six, the arms carried two people at a time. It costed forty cents for adults and twenty-five cents for children to ride. The passengers were loaded at the bottom of the ride, then ascended into the air before being released at the top, floating to the ground.

June 1947, aerial photo of a daring couple on the ride. Image Credit: Beumann/CORBIS

Just as years before in Chicago, the Parachute Jump was a success. It was so loved that The Tilyou Family (who owned Luna Park at the time) bought the ride for one hundred fifteen thousand dollars and brought to Coney Island and reassembled under the management of, architect, Michael Mario and, engineer, Edwin Kleinert.

Even though the nation went through some very tough times in relation to World War II, The Parachute Jump stood atop the beach literally as a symbol of safety. According to “The Parachute Jump Designation Report” on nyc.gov, the Parachute jump served as a beacon of light for American planes and ships.

 

It stopped production in the late 1960’s but it’s structural skeleton still stands. In 1980 it was admitted into to the collection of National Register of Historic Places. Nine years later it was finally recognized as a New York City Landmark. By 1993, the Parachute Jump was painted in its original colors and stabilized for viewing purposes. The addition of LED lights wasn’t introduced until 2004; this production took two years to complete and made its first public appearance on July 7, 2006.

Now The Parachute Jump is like the Times Square of Brooklyn for New Year’s Eve. It will count down the seconds and illuminate the space at midnight. It has recently become a popular destination for New Yorkers on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

The parachute Jump has become the capital of Coney Island for me. It reminds me of my younger days on the Island and most of the reasons why I’m so proud of my borough.

What does The Parachute Jump mean to you?

Deno’s Wonder Wheel

If anyone would ask eight year old Sabrina what was the scariest amusement park ride she could possibly think of, she would have replied with a very unoriginal kid-type of answer, any crazy roller coaster with all types of loops and anti-gravity. If someone were to propose the same question now, I would answer with The Wonder Wheel or any other Ferris wheel similar to this childhood joy. Something about being flimsily locked into a cage and being rotated and swung, about one hundred fifty feet in the air makes me a bit queasy.

The first stop in the history of Deno’s Wonder Wheel is placed in Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1891 when a carpenter by the name of William Somers placed a file patenting a structure he called a “Roundabout.” He was mass making these Roundabouts for local amusement parks in Atlantic City, Asbury, and Coney Island. His structure was made of wood and lifted its riders fifty feet in the air. Somers wanted to publicize his invention and was the first to patent this idea. With the help of Google Patents which transcribes patents to viewable versions for the internet, I was able to find Somer’s Patent, US489238. It includes his structural drawings to concisely prove the concept of his invention. This is the first patent regarding the Roundabout and all of its successors.

Structural drawing to prove the concept as viable for patent.

Image Credit: Google Patent

According to Smithsonian.com In 1890 architect and urban planner, Daniel Burnham (whom I’ve mentioned in a past post for creating the Flatiron Building), was commissioned to be the Director of Works for the World’s fair of 1893 in Chicago. The city hoped to have him present America with its own version of the beautiful Eiffel Tower. Desperate for an answer to the city’s need, Burnham held his own contest with engineers to invent something that would be the show-stopping piece for the fair. As a response to Burnham’s request, George Washington Gale Ferris Jr., a thirty-three year old engineer native to Pittsburgh, came up with an idea for a pleasure wheel much akin to Somer’s Roundabout although his would be illuminated and made of steel which increased the diameter of fifty feet to two hundred fifty feet. It would be delicate and tensile, Ferris thought it was perfect for the program but Burnham shot down his idea since he felt that it was too fragile to safely carry passengers at that height. Instead of giving up on his dream, Ferris commissioned the project by himself with twenty-five thousand dollars. On June 21, 1893 he debuted his structure as the Eiffel Tower of the fair; it was a success. From then on, Somers was forgotten in the public eye and we now refer to Roundabouts as Ferris Wheels.

On Memorial Day of 1920 Charles Herman, engineer, opened a Ferris wheel to the public. Its conception took about nineteen months with the help of the Eccentric Ferris Wheel Company. it was one hundred fifty feet in diameter and could have as many as one hundred forty-four passengers at maximum capacity. This two hundred ton beauty had a total of twenty-four cars (sixteen stationary cars which are on the outer circle of the wheel and eight cars that rock for the real thrill-seekers which are in the center) all of which could hold up to six people. Herman named the wheel “Dip-the-Dip” and it remained in his service and care for the next years until his death. His son Fred Garms took over the legacy and took care of the ride while making his own additions, like the “Spook-a-rama”. In 1983, Garms sold the rides to a Greek born immigrant by the name of Constantinos Dionysios “Deno” Vourderis for two hundred fifty thousand dollars.

Image Credit: Atlas Obscura

This is where the name that we all grew up with, comes into light, “Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park”. In 1948, Deno had proposed to his wife in front of the Wonder Wheel; in addition to promising to love and stand by her for the rest of his life, he also promised to buy the Wonder Wheel, one day, and buy her a ring she deserved; he kept those promises. In 1994, Deno passed away leaving his sons to take on his legacy just as Herman and his son.

To this day, The Wonder Wheel has a perfect safety record after ninety-seven years in business and is the best example of care for an amusement park ride. It is also deemed the most romantic ride since it’s seen many proposals. The public loved the ride so much that there are two known replicas in California and Japan.

Shown in this image is the Greek flag which is to represent Deno’s heritage.

From family to family the Wonder Wheel was passed and every owner deeply cared for it; having this remarkable desire to keep everyone safe by maintaining the wheel’s health.

The Cyclone

My family never had the kind of money for splurges like annual summer vacations, weekly family staycations, or money fueled kid-friendly activities on the daily; so whenever my and my sister’s birthday came around, we knew it was our chance to go to Coney Island. I grew up with good ol’ fashioned Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park and Astroland that had awesome kiddie rides which look laughable now but held my interest in my younger years. We would spend the entire day there regardless of the weather. It was a real amusement park sandwich, rides in the morning, lunch break, more rides, sunset on the beach, and more rides before going home, well into dusk. Once it was later in the night and my sister and I began to get tired, my mother and grandmother would take the chance to have some quality time with my older sister, who had to be subjected to our child-friendly amusement for the whole day. I remember it so vividly, the way my older sister and whomever rode with her, would walk valiantly towards a monster of ride that I was way too small to handle. The bravery exuded from their demeanor and I always admired it. Me and my other sister would wait on the street adjacent to the buzzy lights that illuminated The Cyclone sign; we’d listen carefully, sifting through the screams of terror and pleasure, in the hopes of hearing those of our sister. To my young mind riding The Cyclone was a rite of passage; You knew how mature, courageous, and utterly awesome you were if you were able to be graced with a turn on this rickety wooden roller coaster.

The Cyclone opened to the public on a bright summer day of June 26, 1927. Its precedent, The Giant Racer, was torn down in 1926 in order to make way for the production of the new Cyclone designed by Vernon Keenan and constructed with the help of the Harry C. Baker Company which supplied all the iron, steel, and lumber needed to develop this beautiful creature. Production cost was around one hundred thousand dollars and only cost twenty-five cents to ride, once it was completed. It was unheard of for the time, a coaster that had fifty-eight point one degree drops, according to nyc.gov, and zipped through the air at sixty miles per hour speed from eighty-five foot elevations. It holds up to twenty-four passengers and the duration of the entire ride is about two minutes. For the time, it was the second-steepest roller coaster in the world.

As of 2005 four reproductions were made in the Cyclones’ honor around the world.

Something so technologically pure being made over ninety years ago seems as astounding and mind-boggling as the Egyptians stacking billions of mud bricks and heavy stones in order to make the Pyramids of Giza. I consciously make that magnified comparison since The Cyclone is one of Brooklyn’s most treasured gems.

Taking these photos made me reminiscent of my childhood and how much the island changed over the years. I remember Coney Island before all this “remastered Luna Park business” came onto the shore; although the new Luna Park is a very nice amusement park, I want to give a recognition to the kids who rode the Tilt-A-whirl before you had to walk through some man’s exaggerated maniacal open mouth in order to get there.

To all my Astroland veterans, y’all remember those days?

Coney Island Boardwalk

The sun is shining, waves are glistening and are frantically running into the sand before breaking on the shore and rocks. Deep breath in, seawater fill my nostrils and mouth, coating my tastebuds. My skin bevels in a grid-like pattern, chills sprinting up my arms. All these sounds, crashing waves, laughter emanating children, screams echoing of amusement, cries of seagulls, and the loudly mellow roar of rides at work; all of it drowns into nothingness. Silence until a low snap starts to create the first sound I remember hearing in what feels like hours. The rhythm beats against my eardrums. Violins start to carry out a melody as my ears piece together an old song my grandmother used to play. Reminiscence is in my smile as I walk along the boardwalk with my bare feet; feeling everything I possibly can. The song continues, The Drifters harmonizing in throaty whispers about something happening under the boardwalk. I finally close my eyes, reveling in everything that is Brooklyn and the richness that is Coney Island.

Even Though Summer ends tomorrow, I will attempt to keep the season alive for the next few weeks with an adventure into Coney Island. I will tell the stories of the richest pinnacles of the Island and what became of them. But this week I will start with an introduction to the story of Coney Island Boardwalk.

According to nyc.gov the essence of the boardwalk has been around since the 1820’s. Back then, it was just a house that people used to host parties or to just be close to the ocean. It’s amazing to think about how many generations has past since then but the mentality of this magnetic pull to the ocean never faded or shifted in any way, shape, or form. The spot gradually became a more populated area; restaurants, hotels, halls, and more popping up along Coney Island Beach to aid people in a retreat from the city. By May 15, 1924 Coney Island Boardwalk opened to the public for the first time, giving all New Yorkers a chance to release and find fun-filled memories at such a magical place. The boardwalk was originally called Riegelmann Boardwalk in respect of the Brooklyn borough President of the time, Edward Riegelmann. He oversaw the three million dollar renovation to make this popular spot suitable for the large sum of people that would spend long hot summer days on the beach. This new boardwalk lined amusement park rides, food vendors, games, and most importantly the ocean.

Although the boardwalk has been fully renovated throughout the years due to natural environmental weathering, the purpose still stays the same. Thousands of people flock the old Coney Island Boardwalk to be close with each other and even closer to the ocean; it connects us with one another and in some ways connects us to the world.

Tune in next week for the next installment, as I introduce you to the historical side of Coney Island.