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Archive for the tag 'boardwalk'

Source: FreeVerse Photography/Flickr

Improv Everywhere, the group behind the no pants subway ride and Frozen Grand Central gags, returned to Coney Island for the 5th Annual Black Tie Beach event on Saturday.

Source: FreeVerse Photography/Flickr

Hundreds of the group’s acolytes gathered on the shoreline in their best formal wear – gowns, tuxedos, top hats, monocles – before plunging into the water fully clothed.

Source: FreeVerse Photography/Flickr

Meanwhile, those not in on the gag, which would be just about anyone else hanging around Coney Island or Brighton Beach, let loose a series of guffaws as they tried to figure out what was going on.

Source: FreeVerse Photography/Flickr

The group’s website has several photo collections from the event posted already, and they’re working on a video. In the meantime, here’s last year‘s video:

Did you catch the black tie crew? What was your reaction?

All of the photos for this post were taken by Dave Bledsoe/FreeVerse Photography, who generously posted them with a Creative Commons license on Flickr. Check out his photostream for more.

The 32nd Annual Mermaid Parade is just around the corner, kicking off at 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 21.

Antique automobiles, wacky floats and scantily clad mermaids and mermen will roll down Surf Avenue and the boardwalk in New York City’s largest public celebration of art, artists and counterculture. But some are grousing over this year’s choice of honorees as King Neptune and Queen Mermaid.

The event organizers, Coney Island USA, announced recently that the top slots, previously played by Lou Reed, David Byrne, Queen Latifah and other celebrated actors, musicians and notables, will be filled by New York City’s first kids, Dante and Chiara de Blasio.

The mayor’s offspring will be wheeled through the parade in an antique wicker Boardwalk Rolling Chair that dates back to 1923.

“We are extraordinarily honored to have the participation of New York City’s first family in the parade,” said Coney Island USA founder Dick Zigun, who is known as the Mayor of Coney Island. “King Neptune and Queen Mermaid represent the young adults of New York City who are the next generation of visitors to Coney Island and Coney Island USA.”

While many have hailed their selection, we’ve also seen a number of people taking to social media to decry the choice. Some say they’ll be skipping the parade this year because they disagree with the mayor’s politics. Others have argued that the two are hardly creative heroes or counterculture figures.

It’s unlikely the discontent will make much of a difference in attendance at the event, but we wanted to find out what locals think. Are Dante and Chaira de Blasio good choices to celebrate Coney Island’s quirks? Or is this selection just too political for you?

Photo courtesy of Butch Moran

Fireworks rang in the 2013 season. (Photo by Butch)

Coney Island’s traditional Friday night fireworks will kick off for the 2014 season on June 20, just hours before the first day of summer and the Mermaid Parade, Amusing the Zillion reports.

The fireworks, sponsored by the Alliance for Coney Island, are free to all, taking place on the beach near West 10th Street and West 12th Street.

Friday night fireworks are fired at 9:30 p.m.

Before that begins, however, there will be several displays of burning, colored gun powder in the sky over the neighborhood. The Brooklyn Cyclones at MCU Park put on their own shows, and the site reports that this year each show will have a musical theme. The Cyclones begin their display on opening day, Saturday, June 14, and host two more post-game shows that week on June 16 and June 17.

Check Amusing the Zillion for MCU’s full fireworks schedule, which includes several Saturdays and some weekdays.

July 4 falls on a Friday this year, but the People’s Playground might defer to the East River’s blasts. A NY1 report last month claimed that the city was withholding permits to the Alliance for Coney Island for their Independence Day display. Despite multiple attempts, we have not been able to confirm the report, and will update if we hear anything different.

Here’s a little video from last year’s opening night:

Beer Island in 2008. Apparently, no one on Flickr took photos of the real sites, so you get this lonely guy with a murse. (Source: laserlars/Flickr)

On the list of things that I’m way too excited about and probably flag me as less than a gentleman, Coney Island’s Beer Island is being resurrected as Margarita Island, Amusing the Zillion reports.

For those who don’t know, Beer Island was one of those places that could only emerge in the post-Thor, pre-development purgatory phase of Coney Island, when various establishments were shuttered to make way for new amusements and construction that took a few years to appear. To save face, Thor leased out a few properties to various operators, of which only Beer Island was redeemable.

Let me set the scene here: a big fenced lot. Within, someone dumped a few tons of sand, set up some chintzy tables and umbrellas, and hired some buxom dames to wear bikinis and dole out suds from a shack.

It was glorious, and it was given the boot when the city evicted the boardwalk businesses after purchasing the property from Thor.

Now, it’ll be returning, this time to Bowery Street and West 12th Street. Here’s the nut from AtZ:

The outdoor bar’s liquor license was issued a few days ago and a food truck specializing in Japanese teriyaki is already parked on site. New picnic tables are set up on the corner lot, which had been vacant since Coney Island Arcade burned down four years ago. The property is owned by Jeff Persily, who is also leasing the space next-door to [Margarita Island owner Carl] Muraco for his arcade, formerly located in one of Thor’s buildings.

Five-dollar beers? Yes, please. Check out AtZ’s scoop for more details, including the food they plan on bringing in.

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.

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