In yesterday's Daily News, Charles Denson, author of "Coney Island: Lost and Found" and director of the Coney Island History Project, writes about the fight Coney has fought to survive over the years:
"Power broker Robert Moses declared Coney an urban renewal site in 1949, opening the door for Mayor John Lindsay's infamous high-rise housing projects. In 1966, Donald Trump's father, Fred Trump, demolished historic Steeplechase Park for a housing project that was never built. And in a 2004 court case, then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani was finally forced to admit under oath that he had ordered the demolition of the derelict Thunderbolt Roller Coaster after publicly denying that he had been responsible."
Now Coney is threatened again and this may be the last season we have to enjoy it. Who knows what the future of Coney will be? It all hangs in the balance. One day, it's being leveled for a Vegas-style nightmare, the next, it may be saved. (See Kinetic Carnival for the whole scoop.) But like all good New York things, it's already vanishing, bit by bit.
If the developers have their way, one of the treasures we could lose is Paul Georgoulakos's fabulous Astroland food stand Gregory & Paul's.
Opened in 1970, the stand serves up classic Coney fare--clams, dogs, burgers, corn--and advertises on magnificent signage painted by local legend George Wallace, profiled here in Gowanus Lounge.
For The Brooklynites, a book of photos by Seth Kushner, Mr. Georgoulakos put it simply, "I like this place because it is something that you own and built from scratch and used my hands to make a living."
Someday (too soon!) few New Yorkers will be able to make such a statement.
#20 from Lawrence Ferlinghetti's A Coney Island of the Mind:
The pennycandystore beyond the El
is where I first
fell in love
Jellybeans glowed in the semi-gloom
of that september afternoon
A cat upon the counter moved among
the licorice sticks
and tootsie rolls
and Oh Boy Gum
Outside the leaves were falling as they died
A wind had blown away the sun
A girl ran in
Her hair was rainy
Her breasts were breathless in the little room
Outside the leaves were falling
and they cried
Too soon! too soon!