Today’s Gotham Gazette has an in-depth article explaining the controversy surrounding the City’s redevelopment plan for Coney Island. The article is a must-read for anyone who wants to get up-to-speed on the ongoing debate.
Perhaps the most interesting part, though, is a bit of historical context. How did Coney Island change from one of the world’s most popular amusement areas to the much smaller and grittier place we know today?
“In 1964, developer Fred C. Trump (the father of Donald Trump) ordered the destruction of Steeplechase Park in order to construct luxury housing in the area formerly occupied by the decades-old amusement park. Although Trump could not get the area zoned for housing, he is notorious for personally throwing a brick through the glass façade of the park’s beaux-arts Pavilion of Fun, leading a festive demolition of the building before it could be designated a historic landmark.
The loss of Steeplechase initiated decades of decline for an area that was once one of the country’s premier amusement destinations—decades that would shrink the amusement area to 5 percent of its original size and see the demolition of other major Coney landmarks, such as the Thunderbolt roller coaster in 2000.”