FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 15, 2018
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New York City's Iconic Coney Island Boardwalk Becomes A Designated Landmark
Since opening 95 years ago, the Coney Island Boardwalk has been one of the best-known waterfront promenades in the world.
It is a traditional summertime destination for New Yorkers and visitors alike.
NEW YORK – Today, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) designated the Coney Island (Riegelmann) Boardwalk in Brooklyn a Scenic Landmark in recognition of its cultural and historical significance. Since opening on May 15, 1923, the Coney Island Boardwalk has been one of the best-known waterfront promenades in the world, providing access to the beach, amusements, and spectacular ocean views. Scenic landmark designation will protect the boardwalk’s presence along the beachfront and preserve this iconic site for future generations.
“We are so proud to designate the Coney Island Boardwalk a Scenic Landmark,” said Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan. “The Coney Island Boardwalk is as much a part of the culture as it is a part of the history of New York City. It is a beloved public space that embodies Coney Island’s democratic spirit and reflects our City’s values of tolerance, inclusivity and equity.”
“By officially being designated a scenic landmark, the Landmark Preservation Commission is affirming what New Yorkers, and especially Brooklynites, have known for nearly 100 years; Coney Island’s boardwalk is a timeless treasure,” said New York City Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “With its rich history, I am confident that with this designation, it will stand and serve this City and its visitors for hundreds of years to come.”
Named for Brooklyn Borough President Edward J. Riegelmann, who played a leading role in its creation, the Coney Island Boardwalk was part of an ambitious municipal plan to rejuvenate Coney Island and provide the opportunity for people of all economic and social backgrounds to freely enjoy the seaside and beach activities for the first time in New York City. It attracted New Yorkers and visitors alike, from all over the world.
Designed by engineer Philip P. Farley, who also planned the public beach, and built in three phases between 1922 and 1941, the boardwalk extends 2.7 miles, from West 37th Street in Coney Island to Brighton 15th Street in Brighton Beach. The first section of the boardwalk, between Ocean Parkway and West 37th Street, formally opened on May 15, 1923. Two years later, the boardwalk was extended 4,000-feet east, to Coney Island Avenue, and under Park Commissioner Robert Moses, an additional 1,500-feet to Brighton 15th Street in 1941.
The Coney Island Boardwalk, an attraction, in and of itself, also enhanced existing amusements in the area such as The Wonder Wheel, landmarked in 1989, which illuminated the boardwalk and became a beacon in the skyline and a destination for Coney Island visitors. The Cyclone roller coaster, landmarked in 1988, was constructed not long after the boardwalk opened. Later, in 1941, The Parachute Jump from the New York World’s Fair (1939-40), landmarked in 1989, was brought to Steeplechase Park, adjacent to the boardwalk at West 16th Street. Rising 250 feet, it remains one of Coney Island’s most recognizable landmarks.
Rides were not the only attractions on the boardwalk. In 1923, Childs Restaurant (landmarked in 2003), opened connecting diners to the experience of the boardwalk and two years later, the Coney Island Theater (landmarked in 2010) opened providing live performances and motion picture screenings. Today, the former Child’s Restaurant building, which was renovated and reopened in 2017, continues to attract visitors as a dining venue and amphitheater, and the Coney Island Theater is being restored.
The Coney Island Boardwalk is also historically associated with New York City’s popular culture. Artists and filmmakers have been drawn to Coney Island and the boardwalk to capture the throngs of visitors and also the city and nation’s changing social customs and population. It has been featured prominently in the visual arts since opening, and movies, television and music videos have used the boardwalk as a visual backdrop or part of the narrative throughout its history. Additionally, the American summer staple—the hot dog, is said to have been invented in Coney Island, and remains an important part of the boardwalk’s culture. The annual July 4th hot dog eating contest attracts competitors from all over the world.
"For 95 years and counting, the Riegelmann Boardwalk has offered children and families from Brooklyn and beyond a pathway to the carnival of Coney Island, connecting generations of memories,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “The same wooden walkway that inspired artists as diverse as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Beyoncé still inspires millions of people who enjoy its unique character. By designating the Riegelmann Boardwalk as a scenic landmark, the Landmarks Preservation Commission is protecting for future generations an institution that defines Brooklyn as a destination unlike anywhere else in the world, honoring the legacy of former Borough President Edward J. Riegelmann. This landmarking is a landmark achievement for the communities of Coney Island and Brighton Beach, from the leadership of Council Members Deutsch and Treyger to the tenacity of longtime residents who made their voices count.”
“I am incredibly proud and excited that the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission has recognized the need to preserve and protect this beloved structure, as well as an integral piece of southern Brooklyn’s rich culture, history and tradition,” said Council Member Mark Treyger. “The Coney Island Riegelmann embodies the American democratic spirit and continues to be an iconic symbol of our city and our country, but it’s also a vital part of our local community to this very day. The Boardwalk is where our children, seniors, and families gather to enjoy each other’s company, where local residents leisurely stroll to relax, enjoying its breathtaking views, while others jog to stay fit. It’s the place where southern Brooklynites can go to reconnect with the beauty of the natural world. That’s what makes this designation so important. Landmark status ensures that, no matter what, there will always be a Coney Island Boardwalk. I am grateful to my colleague, Council Member Deutsch, the passionate members of our community, and all of the elected officials that have been supportive of this cause, and I thank the members of the LPC for hearing our call.”
“I am thrilled that the Landmarks Preservation Commission has finally affirmed what Brooklynites know to be true – the Coney Island Boardwalk is a scenic landmark,” said Council Member Chaim Deutsch. “Since 1923, our Boardwalk has been a destination for millions of visitors from New York City and beyond. For generations, Southern Brooklynites have grown up with the Boardwalk as their backyard, and it plays a significant role in summer activities for the Coney Island and Brighton Beach communities. Thanks to my colleague Councilman Mark Treyger, who has been a dedicated partner in this endeavor to have our Boardwalk’s value as a landmark recognized.”
“The Riegelmann Boardwalk is as much a part of our present and future as it is a symbol of Brooklyn’s past,” said Assembly Member Steven Cymbrowitz. “In addition to serving as a portal to the Brighton and Coney Island beaches, the Boardwalk is a pathway to the New York Aquarium and amusement area and is also a strolling, biking, rollerblading, jogging and dog walking lane for many thousands of Brooklynites year-round. The emotional connection that people have to the Boardwalk is undeniable and it is fitting that our neighborhood icon has received the landmark status it has deserved for so long.”
"Coney Island's an iconic part of New York City's history and we are honored to have the Boardwalk join our numerous other landmarks including the Cyclone, Wonder Wheel, Parachute Jump and Childs Restaurant," said Alexandra Silversmith, Executive Director of the Alliance for Coney Island. “As a quintessential part of the Coney Island experience, we are excited to have it continue to be part of our landscape for generations to come.”
“We are thankful to Council Members Treyger and Deutsch for their outstanding support, and the Landmarks Preservation Commission for granting the Coney Island Boardwalk scenic landmark status,” said Rob Burstein, president of the Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance. “This serves as an important first step toward guaranteeing the full protection of the Boardwalk as what it has been and should always be – a unique pedestrian wooden promenade!”
About the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC)
The Landmarks Preservation Commission is the mayoral agency responsible for protecting and preserving New York City’s architecturally, historically and culturally significant buildings and sites. Since its creation in 1965, LPC has granted landmark status to more than 36,000 buildings and sites, including 1,410 individual landmarks, 120 interior landmarks, 10 (now 11) scenic landmarks, and 141 historic districts and extensions in all five boroughs. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/landmarks and connect with us via www.facebook.com/NYCLandmarks and www.twitter.com/nyclandmarks.