Shore Theater/Coney Island, NY

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Advocates Look To Preserve Coney Island’s Storied Past

By: Jeanine Ramirez

As redevelopment efforts begin to take shape in Coney Island, a group of Brooklynites called on the city Tuesday to maintain some of the area’s most iconic structures. NY1’s Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.

The Shore Theater stands out in Coney Island as the tallest building in the amusement area. And Coney Island enthusiasts hope it will soon be recognized for another reason. Built in the mid 1920s, the now vacant theater is one of the buildings in the area up for landmark status. A hearing on the proposed designation was held Tuesday by the city’s Landmark Preservation Commission.

“It’s just an incredibly architecturally significant building that should be preserved as Coney Island’s future,” said Charles Denson of the Coney Island History Project.

Denson was one of several speakers who attended a hearing Tuesday hosted by the city’s Landmark Preservation Commission.

Those who came out for the meeting were hoping to sway the commission to vote in favor of landmarking both the Shore Theater and old Child’s Restaurant building. The Surf Avenue building, owned by Coney Island USA, is now used as a venue for Sideshows by the Seashore, the headquarters of the Mermaid Parade and a Coney Island Museum.

“This is real progress today and I cannot be happier,” said Dick Zigun of Coney Island USA.

Six years ago, Coney Island USA nominated six buildings for landmark status. Preservationists say for now, they’ll take two and are willing to do whatever revitalization work is necessary.

Advocates Look To Preserve Coney Island's Storied Past

“We will work with the Landmarks Commission on the proper look, on the proper paint colors and restore it to the 1917 gem that Coney Island was proud of 93 years ago and will be proud of again,” Zigun said.

Currently, the Cyclone roller coaster, the Wonder Wheel and the defunct Parachute Jump have been granted landmark status.

A former child’s restaurant on the boardwalk which now operates as a seasonal roller rink was also designated a New York City landmark back in 2003.

“There are very, very few historic resources remaining in Coney Island,” said Beth Bingham of Save Coney Island.

Preservation advocates are also seeking landmark status for the original Nathan’s restaurant, the Shore Hotel and the Bank of Coney Island.

The hope is to create an entire historic district. But for now, preservation advocates say they will gladly take what they can get.

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  1. Gary Parks

    During THS Conclave 2002, on one of our free nights, several of us took the train out to Coney Island, rode the Cyclone and Wonder Wheel and one of the carousels…and marveled at the exterior of the Shore Theatre. I remarked that it’s vertical sign looked like a Loew’s style sign, and therefore was not surprised to later find it had once borne the Loew’s name. Here’s hoping the theatre will be part of the new Coney Island, as will those buildings and attractions which have weathered the years. That roller rink building is particularly entrancing!

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