Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Shore Hotel

The Shore Hotel is one of the buildings owned by Thor and slated for the City's wrecking ball in their vicious plan for Coney Island.

my flickr

Located on Surf Avenue and Henderson's Walk, the Shore building was built in 1903, according to Charles Denson's Coney Island. Looking at this circa 1920 photo and some New York Times articles from way back, I suspect it may have once been The Brooklyn House, a bath and movie house with a Nedick's on the ground floor, seen here on the left.

circa 1920

In this 1932 photo, the Shore is seen in all its glory as the Newark House hotel, complete with an elaborate wooden cupola on top, and Nedick's replaced by a frozen custard stand.

NYPL, 1932

The following photo, dated 1936, has the hotel as the Surf Annex, with Shea's Gilsey House and Paddy Shea's Beer Garden on the ground floor serving rotisserie and roast beef. The Gilsey House may have been the post-Prohibition version of Paddy's Grisley House, originally on Coney's Bowery:

According to Jeffrey Stanton, "Paddy Shea's Grisley House originally on the Bowery suffered from a change of customer tastes, too. For years it attracted a middle class crowd mostly of Irish descent who enjoyed a 12 ounce glass well-brewed beer and had an affection for songs and dances of their homeland. When Prohibition and the subway came in 1920, Paddy wouldn't sell liquor illegally. Reduced profits and high rents forced him to move to a new location on Surf Avenue."

A 1944 book called This America still has Paddy Shea--a "dour, octogenarian"--taking his seat at the Gilsey House door at 10:00 in the morning.

NYPL, 1936

Today, the cupola is gone, but this decorative wooden cornice is still intact on the Henderson's Walk side of the building.

my flickr

Somewhere in time, the building became the Shore Hotel--"Paradise by the Sea." It was shady and mysterious--a hot-pillow joint where, until very recently, you could rent a room at $40 for a "short stay." That $40 would also get you a free porn video to watch in your room.

my flickr

In 2005, Dan Glass in L Magazine wrote an excellent article about what it was like to stay at The Shore. He writes, "Me and my girlfriend spent the night at the Shore Hotel a couple years ago, in a grimy green-walled room on a bed with springs compressed unevenly from years of by-the-hour use, with my underwear hanging under the bare fluorescent bulb to cut its dirty glare."

He recalls, "I lock the door and we fall on the bed. We dig it here, it’s got a little sink, the bed is big enough, and we have the car-bang clatter and shout of Surf Avenue one story below for a soundtrack--all we’re missing is a flickering neon sign out the window. Our stingy friend [the manager] knocks on the door, hands me a tape and leaves. 'I guess that’s part of the service,' she says. 'They even pick out the tape for you.' I turned it over. Just Black Cumshots."

my flickr

For more than a century, this little three-story building accommodated Coney's changing tastes and desires. Always a house of hospitality, offering rooms and baths for various purposes and countless people, it hosted beer halls, custard stands, and now a grocery store, forever being recycled and repurposed. But not anymore.

Today, the Shore is shuttered.
Plywood went into the windows in the summer of 2007, as Thor and the city aimed to blight Coney in preparation for its demolition. When the City's Plan goes through, a massive high-rise will stand here.


Bryan said...

What a terrific first picture!

I've really dug these posts re: Coney. Thanks very much for taking the time to do such an excellent job chronicling the coming transformation.

Jeremiah Moss said...

thanks bryan. it's been fun digging up the history on these buildings. more to come...

Streets of Stamford said...

This is such a shame. Hasn't NYC learned its lesson from the demolition of Penn Station, the Thunderbolt, and countless other historic buildings and structures?

I would understand if the building were in danger of collapse, but if not, then they should try to restore and repurpose it somehow.

deborah matlack said...

My boss just directed me to your blog. Awesome! I've been following the happenings in Coney for several years. Thor Equities a/k/a Joseph Sitt really has the City by the cohones. The Bible says the LOVE of MONEY is the ROOT of ALL EVIL. Too bad we all have to suffer for it. Keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

This is what you get when you elect a billionaire businessman acting like a "nice guy" as mayor, when he's really just the same old power and money hungry beast he always was, true only to himself and his cohorts.
Sadly, he'll probably get elected again- not by me, though!
First with Giuliani, then Bloomberg this city has vanished to real-estate interests right before our eyes- not even through the soft haze of history!

Tricia said...

RIP Coney Island's Shore Hotel. Built c. 1903. Demolished by Thor Equities on December 10, 2010. It's down. Your post could serve as its epitaph.