Coney Island’s Grand Past: A Requiem for an American Icon
Coney Island is nearing its final days, swirling ever-more deeply into a dismal state of disrepair. Soon the bulldozers will be back again, pushing over the last weathered links to the past, spelling the demise, once and for all, of the city’s most iconic neighborhood. Coney Island was always a place where you could drink beer, “shoot a freak,” see a geek, see a burlesque show, see fish, catch fish, eat fish, ride the Cyclone, ride the waves, win a kewpie doll, play Skee-Ball, go to a ballgame, see a band and lie on the sand. It was the last stand of the morally doubtful, the last place where one could feel the openness and energy of New York City in the 1970s, but stripped of the accompanying dread of crime and decay.
Now the city administration and wealthy developers have set into motion their master plans to rescue everyone from all of that, constructing at least four luxury hotels as high as 30 stories tall and as many as 26 residential towers to house wealthy residents paying top dollar for their condos. The real tragedy of Coney Island’s destruction is one that carries a much broader social message, it symbolizes the devastation of what had been since the mid-1800s a haven for waves of immigrant peoples, for the poor and for those who have been forced to exist on the outer-margins of society. And that is the real catastrophe.
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The Spectacular Coney Island in 1940: A Documentary
Bob Dylan: Beyond Here Lies Nothin’
Lou Reed: Coney Island Baby
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