Monday, April 6, 2009

The Cyclone opens, but whither the rest of Coney Island?

This morning New York One had a story on the annual opening day of the Cyclone, that famously rickety deathtrap of a rollercoaster on Coney Island. The Cyclone is ancient, decrepit and falling apart, but is dearly beloved by zillions of devoted followers -- much like Coney Island itself. But, as the NY1 report noted, the rest of Coney Island's future hangs in the balance. The rest of Astroland has been shuttered, several boardwalk institutions like Ruby's are closing, and city officials want to turn CI into a "year-round destination" (read: clean and safe for children and yuppie families).

I can see why they would want to do this, really I can, but I'm one of those old, nostalgic die-hards who wants Coney Island to stay exactly how it is. I love my annual treks to CI for the free Siren Music Festival, the annual freakshow that is the Mermaid Day Parade, the extremely "colorful" locals (a journalistic euphemism if there ever was one - if you see it in an article, it usually means the person being described is batshit crazy) and of course, my beloved Nathan's Hot Dogs. To me, Coney Island without these things isn't Coney Island at all. Look, if I want to go to a nice beach, I'll hop on the LIRR and go to long beach, okay? So leave CI alone!

But I guess it wouldn't be the first time CI has changed. According to Ken Burns' documentary on New York City, it was once an extremely posh refuge for the rich. Let's at least hope it doesn't go back to that...

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