One bit of authenticity that still exists at Coney Island, that hasn't yet been destroyed by politicians and developers, that won't soon be replaced by a suburban mall pretzel kiosk or an up-market sports pub designed to murder the human soul, is the Williams Candy Shoppe.
For about 75 years it's been going strong and now it's the last old-fashioned candy shop in Coney Island.
It got that distinction when Philip's Candy Shop was shuttered by the city in 2001 after 70 years of business. Philip's was the first thing you saw as you exited the subway at Stillwell and emerged to Coney, passing windows full of frozen chocolate-covered bananas and giant lollipops. It was a thrill, a kind of visual and olfactory appetizer for what was to come. Now, if I recall correctly (but who'd bother to remember?), the first thing you see is a Dunkin Donuts.
Philip's Candy Shop
The Williams Candy Shoppe is not so centrally located. It's sort of tucked away, on the far side of Nathan's. Maybe Bloomberg and his henchmen haven't noticed it?
We know what's coming--more of the same ugliness, the same architecture of death. Everybody wants their bite of Coney Island.
But until that day comes, stop in at Williams Candy Shoppe. Quite simply, it's beautiful. You don't see things like this anymore--the visual delight of candy apples and coconut-covered marshmallows, of spiral lollipops and radioactive-orange Circus Peanuts all tumbled together--and you never know when you'll be seeing it for the last time.
Listen to the candy shop's owner tell his story here.