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Archive for the tag 'boardwalk'

Atlas on NY1

Atlas on NY1

At this point, just about every resident of Southern Brooklyn’s boardwalk communities knows Gary Atlas – if not by name, then by sight.

He’s the guy you see out there every morning, regardless of the weather, running shirtless and in thin shorts before taking a plunge in the ocean.

He’s done this every day for 2,369 consecutive days – or six years and counting.

NY1 caught up with him earlier this month, spotlighting his continuous effort to hit 4,000 consecutive runs even throughout this particularly nasty winter.

As workers with the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation spreaded salt on the latest dusting of snow Monday, Gary Atlas emerged from his building shirtless and ready to run. About his only acknowledgment of the cold was the socks that he wears on his hands.

“The fingers tend to freeze up, so socks work better than gloves,” he said. “Gloves, after a while, my fingers will get cold. Socks has a mitten effect. The hands stay warmer.”

The cold itself hasn’t been bothering Atlas, it’s the snow, which makes the six-mile treck a particularly difficult slog. But he handled the worst of the days by detouring to the streets and running in the plow’s wake – the second time in seven years he’s had to leave the boardwalk.

Atlas began the routine in 2007 to clear his mind while his mother struggled with health issues. He continues to do it to honor his mother.

“While I’m running, it keeps the memory of my mother alive,” he says. “She was here when I started, and she’s still with me on every run.”

Check out the full profile here.

And, of course, we’ve had our own little Atlas sighting on our sister site, Sheepshead Bites. On the morning of October 29, 2012, as Superstorm Sandy lapped at our coastline, a Sheepshead Bites reader snapped this shot of him emerging from the rough waters:

It is appropriate with Halloween being around the corner that we have the pleasure to introduce more glorious footage of Coney Island’s yesteryear, highlighting the spooky freak shows that help make the boardwalk iconic.

Last month, we came across a 50-second clip uploaded by ChiTownView, which featured the freak shows of Coney Island dating back to the 1940s. Well, this historically minded YouTuber has found even more footage of vintage Coney Island, mashing newsreel bits from the 40s, 50s and 60s together into a glorious and trippy walk down memory lane.

This time, you can see men breathing fire, dancing freaks, creepy wax museum figures that nearly come to life, a racy little striptease and the whirling light show of Coney Island’s best rides set to a creepy laugh track of drunken carnies. Best of all, it ends like all the best nights on Coney Island do, with a fireworks show blasting in the sky.

Great stuff, ChiTown. We hope you can keep finding the lost gems and sharing them for all of us to appreciate.

Hep Cats (Source: 50sand60s via Twitter)

Hep Cats (Source: 50sand60s via Twitter)

Dig the scene. A couple of cool daddios parade down the boardwalk on Coney Island, smoking cigs and flashing tattoos, grooving on all the squares terrified over their rock n’ roll attitudes.

Yes, that was an incredibly lame description but the picture above, provided on Twitter by the @50sand60s account, is a fascinating glimpse into how little changes in the world of cool. Yes, tattoos, Ray Ban sunglasses and hipster hairdos were also all the rage in 1957, proving that Coney Island is always a place to look cool and be cool… or something.

Freakin’ hipsters.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

A new YMCA is coming to Coney Island, and administrators are looking to mark their grand opening by burying a time capsule. News 12 is reporting that the representatives from the Y are looking for community input as to what should go in the capsule.

The new facility will be located at Surf Avenue and West 29th Street and is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The capsule is set to be sealed inside the building, not to be disturbed for decades. News 12 is reporting that the most common suggestions thus far include parts of the boardwalk, tickets for rides and Nathan’s hot dogs. If they put in a hot dog, I feel sorry for the dominant automatons that get a whiff of that capsule when they open it in the distant future.

I have a fundamental problem with time capsules. It seems that no time capsule is buried without some journalist writing about what was placed inside. It defeats the purpose of creating a mystery for people from the future if they can just look up an old news article and see that the ‘strange time capsule from yesteryear’ includes Pop-Tarts, Air Jordan’s, a U2 cassette tape and whatever else people think is a good idea to cram in these things.

Anyway, to submit your own idea for the capsule and to learn more about the new YMCA coming to Coney Island, click here.

Photo by Bruce Brodinsky

Photo by Bruce Brodinsky

Steeplechase Pier, located off the boardwalk at Coney Island, reopened this week, nearly a year after sustaining significant damage following Superstorm Sandy. Amusing the Zillion reported earlier this week that repairs on the pier were almost completed and will open sometime this month.

Now, reader Bruce Brodinsky has tipped us off that the pier is fully open, with shiny new benches, railings, lighting and more. It looks great!

As we reported on Sheepshead Bites, the 1,000-foot-pier was originally set to open in July, but continuing construction delayed the reopening. The construction, which has cost an estimated $19.4 million, had suffered setbacks when a barge and crane used in the repairs sank in April.

The new pier is also set to offer an interesting new see-through observation deck which will allow pedestrians to stare down at the water under their feet.

Nathan's Famous in the 1950s (Source: eBay via brownstoner.com)

Nathan’s Famous in the 1950s (Source: eBay via brownstoner.com)

Every time I am tasked with writing something about the original Nathan’s Famous (1310 Surf Avenue) I get really hungry. There is something about those delicious, ketchup-covered* hot dogs, the salty crinkle-cut french fries and the sea breeze off the boardwalk at Coney Island that just presses all my happy buttons. We all know that Nathan’s is a Brooklyn institution, but a reminder never hurts. A report in Brownstoner delves into the near century-long tradition of the world’s best hot-dog palace.

Like many Coney Island businesses, Nathan’s was wrecked by Superstorm Sandy. The hot-dog headquarters had a triumphant reopening this past May after undergoing a full remodeling. After all, no mere storm was going to sink this royal house of franks. Brownstoner noted that the reopening of Nathan’s brought back something old to the new start:

It re-opened in the spring of 2013, in time for the Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer. This time, they added something new – well, something old made a comeback, rather. The new Nathan’s has a curbside clam bar again, not seen since the 1950s. It’s a revival of the restaurant’s raw bar, with East Coast oysters and littleneck clams that are shucked on order over a mountain of ice. They are served with chowder crackers, lemon wedges, horseradish and cocktail sauce.

Brownstoner rolls back the clock even further, describing how Nathan’s was born from the original hot dog inventors:

The story is a familiar rags to riches, immigrant success story. Nathan’s Famous began in the mind of an enterprising Polish immigrant named Nathan Handwerker. Prior to 1916, he was working at the famous Feltman’s German Gardens, an immensely popular restaurant on Coney Island. Charles Feltman was another success story, a German immigrant who came to the US in 1856 at the age of fifteen. His Coney Island career started with a food pushcart on the beach, but by the early 1900’s, that push cart had grown into an empire that took up an entire city block. Feltman’s entertainment and restaurant complex contained nine restaurants, a beer garden, two enormous bars, a carousel, a roller coaster, an outdoor movie theater, a hotel, a ballroom, a bathhouse, a pavilion, a maple garden and a Tyrolean village. He was now a millionaire many times over.

Today, few people remember the enormity of his business, but they do remember that here in New York, he is credited for the invention of the hot dog. (There are other contenders.) He would later comment that his decision to put a sausage on a roll was not an attempt to invent something new, but was just an expedient way of serving the meat, one that didn’t need expensive silverware, or even a plate. He sold his frankfurters for ten cents, and they quickly became the most popular item on his menu.

The report then describes how Nathan Handwerker, (a great name for a hot dog pioneer, I might add) went on to build his own empire using cheaper prices and orchestrating the myth that his hot dogs were healthier than the competition’s:

Nathan Handwerker, as a worker at Feltman’s, was of course familiar with its famous fare. It was his job to split the rolls, and deliver the franks to the grilling station. Legend has it that he slept on the floor of the restaurant in order to save money for his own business. He wanted to make a better hot dog, and he had just the person to help him – his wife Ida Greenwald Handwerker. She had a recipe enhanced with secret spice ingredients handed down from her grandmother in the Old Country. With the encouragement of fellow Feltman’s employees, pianist Jimmy Durante and singing waiter Eddie Cantor, Nathan and Ida pooled together their savings, and with that $300, went into the hot dog business. In order to make their mark, and drum up their initial business, Nathan’s charged only five cents for their hot dogs, while Feltman’s were twice as much, at ten cents. It worked. The good tasting, cheaper hot dog was an enormous hit.

The dogs were sold at the small Nathan’s Famous stand on the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues, beginning in 1916. Nathan was a great idea man, and like all of the great Coney Island entrepreneurs, had more than a bit of the showman in him. He knew that a food like the hot dog would be suspicious to many people, especially in those early days before food inspectors. Ground meat products in casings, like hot dogs and sausages, caused many a raised eyebrow as to their content. They didn’t call it “mystery meat” for nothing. So he devised a two-fold strategy to overcome that stigma.

First, he had all of his servers dress in clean white surgeon’s smocks, to show cleanliness. He then handed out flyers to the local hospitals telling staff that they could eat for free, if they came to Nathan’s in their hospital white uniforms. Soon, long lines of doctors, nurses and aides, all in white, were standing in lines at the stand. Hey, if health professionals ate here in droves, it must be healthy, good food, right? Nathan’s never looked back.

Amazing stuff. The report goes on to detail the menu items added over the years and the subsequent massive expansion of the business over the years. I think I’m gonna hop on the Q-train now and grab a dog, but if your mouth isn’t quite watering yet, you can read the entire report by clicking here.

*Neditor’s note – Ketchup? F’ing ketchup?! MUSTARD! SPICY BROWN DELI MUSTARD! Ugh. I apologize to our readers for Willie’s uncivilized tastes. Freakin’ transplants.

Photo Courtesy of Christine Finn

Photo Courtesy of Christine Finn

The following is a press release from the offices of Senator Charles Schumer:

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that the $7.2 million contract awarded by the Army Corps of Engineers to place 600,000 cubic yards of sand along Coney Island is scheduled to be pumped this upcoming weekend. Schumer fought for and secured approval for this emergency project as part of the Coney Island Reach project, which extends from West 37th Street to Brighton Beach.

“Coney Island was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy and soon, its beaches will be well on their way to being protected against future flooding,” said Schumer. “This emergency project is critical to Coney Island beachgoers and homeowners and that’s why I fought hard to make sure this replenishment project had funding necessary from the Sandy Relief Bill. It is gratifying to see this work about to begin.”

The Coney Island Reach project, which extends from West 37th Street to Brighton Beach, consists of approximately 3 miles of beachfront which provides storm damage reduction to the densely populated communities and infrastructure located along the shoreline of Coney Island.

Through the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 (the Sandy Relief Bill, or PL 113-2), the Corps of Engineers is authorized to restore certain previously constructed projects impacted by Hurricane Sandy to their original design profile. Through this legal authority, the Corps of Engineers is authorized to place the additional sand at Coney Island to restore the project area to its original design profile. PL 113-2 also allocated the funds for the coastal restoration work.

Schumer today announced that the Corps expects the work will begin the weekend of September 7th and will pump 600,000 cubic yards of sand along Coney Island.

Source: Orbital.com

Degrees above the horizon that the rocket will be visible. (Source: Orbital.com)

If the skies are clear tonight and you find yourself walking along the boardwalk at Coney Island or Brighton Beach, or by the Shore Parkway greenway along Gravesend Bay, you might just see a NASA rocket blasting towards the moon. Reader and contributor Ben Cooper tipped us off to the launch of the Minotaur V, a rocket carrying a small spacecraft called LADEE to the moon, and how you can catch it rising over the horizon tonight.

In his message to us, Cooper explained how to catch a glimpse of the rocket:

This Friday night, if skies are clear (and looks good so far), there will be a small rocket launch from NASA’s Virginia launch site known as Wallops Island that will be visible to NYers, especially down here along the ocean and boardwalk.

The Minotaur V rocket will carry a NASA spacecraft called LADEE to the moon; first ever moon launch from Virginia. The launch is slated for 11:27pm and there is a four minute window. (If it delays to Saturday it’s a 15 min window opening at 11:28pm and changes here and there each day).

From south Brooklyn/the boardwalk the general direction to look is just over the NJ part we can see (sandy hook area), arching up and to the left towards Breezy Point as it gains altitude. It would look like a bright moving star going up and out over the ocean (distance from here is about 200 miles).

Visibility info and graphics for some areas are here:

Check out this info graphic from NASA explaining the mission. (Click to enlarge).

Check out this info graphic from NASA explaining the mission. (Click to enlarge).

http://www.orbital.com/NewsInfo/MissionUpdates/MinotaurV/index.shtmlThey are hoping to gain some attention for Wallops Island, which most of the public never heard of before recently really and has now become a launch site for small satellites like this. I think that is why they have put out all these graphics to get people interested.

Wallops Island has been a NASA facility for decades, but in terms of actual space launches the new launch pad they have just opened in 2006 and they have had I think five small rocket launches from it so far.

As for the mission itself, NASA summed up the entire project in this nifty graphic presented at right. If anyone snaps a great shot of the rocket tonight, please e-mail it into us so we can share it with everybody in the community. Thanks again go out to Ben Cooper for all the great information! Be sure to visit Ben’s website, Launch Photography, by clicking here.

Source: Coney Island USA

Source: Coney Island USA

Get prepared to shoot a bunch of moving targets as a vintage World War II-era Mangels Shooting Gallery was discovered just after Superstorm Sandy, and is almost done being restored at Coney Island USA. According to a press release, the old-fashioned shooting gallery was unearthed in the arcades underneath Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, when another, more modern, shooting gallery was destroyed by the storm, revealing this behind it.

The vintage shooting gallery was designed by William Mangels, a legendary Coney Island inventor:

William F. Mangels (1866–1958), was an amusement manufacturer and inventor housed in Coney Island on West 8th street and was a major player in the development of American amusement parks at the start of the 20th century. In addition to manufacturing carousels, including the the frame and rocking mechanism (that makes the horses move up and down) on Mayor Blomberg’s restored B&B Carousell on the Coney Island Riegelmann Boardwalk, the fire engine and boat kiddie rides still in operation at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, shooting galleries and inventing rides including The Whip (ride), he wrote a book titled The Outdoor Amusement Industry: From earliest times to the present.

The gallery itself is a World War II-inspired contraption that features tanks, soldiers and airplanes, testing the aim of shooters as the targets move quickly around the display. According to Coney Island USA’s website, you get 100 shots for $5. Sounds like fun.

The game officially opens on Thursday, August 8 at 1 p.m. at 1214 Surf Avenue (between Stillwell Avenue and West 12th Street).

A home in Sea Gate damaged (in the rear) by Sandy. Photo by Erica Sherman

Damaged schools, health facilities, libraries, abandoned storefronts and treacherous sinkholes. These are some of the major problems still afflicting Coney Island since Superstorm Sandy thrashed the area over eight months ago. Gotham Gazette is reporting that all the damage hasn’t come close to being repaired and that local residents are at their wits’ end in trying to live with them.

On Bensonhurst Bean, we have covered some of the frustration plaguing Coney Island locals. City Council candidate Mark Treyger was furious over the conditions at Carey Gardens (2955 West 24th Street), a New York City housing complex suffering from leaking roofs, the loss of its community center, a broken playground and the sinkhole problems on Neptune Avenue that could attract West Nile mosquitoes.

In another report, we tracked other frustrations facing Coney residents, namely the surging popularity of the pristinely restored beach area that has caused an uptick in traffic and congestion in the area. The restoration of the beach, Luna Park and other fun spots has been a sore spot for locals not buying the reports that Coney Island has fully rebounded:

“They say Coney Island is open for business. Sure, the entertainment district is, but no one talks about the parts of Coney Island where people actually live. They don’t talk about the neighborhoods,” said Ed Cosme, a resident who formed The People’s Coalition of Coney Island to raise awareness about the problems in the parts of the neighborhood that don’t normally draw tourists and bathers.

The Gotham Gazette described the state of a massive sinkhole present on Neptune Avenue:

On Neptune Avenue in Coney Island, state Sen. Diane Savino and a group of community activists walked a cracked and broken sidewalk on a recent day this summer — taking a tour of damage that remains nearly a year after Hurricane Sandy pummeled some of the city’s notable coastal neighborhoods.

At one point, the group stopped to look past a contorted chain-link fence at a massive sinkhole filled with bags of trash, milk cartons and diapers. The crevasse yawned with fault lines that zigged and zagged onto the sidewalk and towards the street. It looked to be growing.

“That thing goes down a ways,” said Ken Jones, a longtime community activist, referring to the sinkhole. “It’s probably right under the sidewalk.” The fact that it has apparently been used on more than one occasion as a dump only added to the activists’ concern that no one — not the state, not the city — is paying enough attention to their neighborhood…

Councilman Domenic Recchia, whose district includes Coney Island, said he has been in contact with multiple city agencies that are working together to study the sinkhole problem in particular.

“They are trying to find out why we are having this problem,” Recchia said. “It isn’t clear if the earth is moving or the sand got pushed out from under the pavement by the flood. But I know it is a problem for a lot of people. They are getting them in their driveway or backyards. I get calls about it all the time.”

While the problems afflicting Coney residents are extensive, a small measure of relief is coming in the form of a $6 million grant provided by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program. The plan is unique in that it allows local community leaders and officials to decide the best way to spend the federal money allotted to them, removing the sometimes disconnected overreach of authorities with no sense of what’s going on the ground.

The report goes on to describe other problems facing the area, including abandoned storefronts, broken docks and lost community outreach programs:

But it isn’t just the sinkholes that have residents concerned that their part of Coney Island is being ignored. Looking past the massive sinkhole on Neptune Avenue, the tortured skeleton of a wooden dock uprooted and smashed by Hurricane Sandy could be seen. A number of boats remained lifted out of the water, stranded on rocks, water-damaged and rotting. “No one has claimed them yet?” Savino asked rhetorically.

The owners are likely long gone. Just like the proprietors of the closed Chinese food restaurant and bodega across the street. “They were just hanging on before Sandy,” Savino said. “They were already in debt. After that storm, another loan wasn’t going to save them.”

Aida Leon is the executive director of the Amethyst Women’s Project, a group that helps women struggling with substance abuse, domestic violence and HIV/AIDS.

As the tour of Coney Island progressed, she said she was concerned that established charitable organizations had been ignored by the larger groups that came in with funding to address problems caused by Sandy.

“They haven’t been on the ground like we have,” she said. “We lost a lot of people after Sandy. They didn’t come back to the programs and I don’t think they are coming back because the people with funding don’t know how to reach them.”

Councilman Domenic Recchia tried to find bright spots in the otherwise bleak picture, claiming that the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) was out fixing the sinkholes and that not all of the community programs were gone.

“We have summer programs like the Cornerstone program and others out of Kaiser Park. They may not all be open but there are programs,” Recchia told the Gotham Gazette.”Compared to other parts of the city, I think we’re doing pretty good. Take a look at the NYCHA facilities — they are working on them. It’s not like the work isn’t happening.”

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