Coney Island Finally a Landmark

Appropriately on its 95th anniversary, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously on May 15, 2018, for the iconic site of Coney Island, officially the Riegelmann Boardwalk, to be granted New York City landmark status. Mark Treyger (D-Brooklyn), a City Council member, had pushed to landmark the boardwalk for the past decade, and his efforts finally gave him and others an achievement to celebrate and to consider a birthday gift! Treyger said that he hopes to see the landmarking finalized by this year’s July 4 holiday, which would appropriately be another cause for fireworks.

The 2.7 mile stretch of the beloved and unique Brooklyn wooden boardwalk opened on May 15, 1923, and has been steadily popular with millions of residents, artists, families, children, seniors, and tourists ever since. It is a part of NYC’s culture and history and is a traditional summertime tradition. It is in the memories of all those who have enjoyed the roller coasters, ferris wheel, other amusements, spectacular ocean views, beach, and everything else including the carnival atmosphere that makes Coney Island so outstanding. Coney Island is also said to have invented hot dogs, and there is a July 4th Hot Dog Eating Contest that attracts competitors from all over the world.

Stretching from the Brooklyn amusement park to Brighton Beach, the best known waterfront promenade in the world and timeless public treasure will now be the city’s eleventh “Scenic Landmark.”

With the designation, the Commission is preserving for coming generations an iconic attraction that makes Brooklyn a travel destination and scenic landmark unlike any other in the world. The landmark designation will also continue to encourage necessary renovations. Hurricane Sandy and wear and tear from age has resulted in replacing some beachfront sections with concrete and some with recycled plastic lumber with a concrete base. Work began in 2009 and will be an ongoing project.

The Riegelmann Boardwalk was originally a portion of the ambitious city plan for the rejuvenation of Coney Island and to have a place for residents of all social and economic backgrounds to freely enjoy beach and seaside activities. It immediately attracted New Yorkers and then visitors from throughout the world. It was named for Edward J. Riegelmann, the Brooklyn Borough President who had played a leading role in its creation. It and the public beach were the designs of engineer Philip P. Farley, and the building of it all was actually accomplished in three ongoing phases from 1922 until 1941.

Other area amusements include the Cyclone roller coaster that was constructed not long after the opening of the Boardwalk; The Wonder Wheel, which illuminated the boardwalk and became a skyline beacon; and The Parachute Jump, which in 1941 was brought from the New York World’s Fair (1939–40) to Steeplechase Park, adjacent to the boardwalk, and with its height of 250 feet, remains one of the most recognizable sights on Coney Island. All three of those have also been designated as landmarks.

Also landmarked in 1923 was the Childs Restaurant, which was renovated and reopened in 2017 for dining and as an amphitheater. The Coney Island Theater was landmarked in 2010 for motion picture screenings and live performances and is being restored. The Boardwalk has been prominently featured in many movies, music videos, and television programs as a visual backdrop.