This summer, for the first ever, music lovers will trek out to Coney Island to experience rock legends like Willie Nelson, Beach Boys and Jane’s Addiction at a gorgeous $60 million, 5,000-seat, outdoor amphitheater.
But over the years, the new site of the Brooklyn Borough President’s annual Seaside Summer Concert Series — Coney’s historic Childs Restaurant — has served many purposes. The architectural gem, with its nautical-style and terra cotta moldings, was among one of the the first national restaurant chains in America, and has charmed beach goers, foodies, and history buffs alike since it first opened its doors in 1923.
During the Coney Island’s catastrophic boardwalk blaze of 1932, for example, the fire-proof Childs Restaurant served as a fire breaker, preventing the flames from causing even more destruction. The beloved restaurant was eventually shuttered in the 1950s, as Coney Island’s amusement district began to decline, and the building languished, dark and unmaintained, until it was finally landmarked in 2002.
In 2008, the Childs was briefly reinvented as a disco-themed roller rink. But the once bustling attraction was never really brought back to its original glory until this year. See the incredible transformation of the Coney Island landmark, spanning nearly a century, in historian Charles Denson‘s new film.