Concrete Coney Boardwalk? New Jersey Laughs At Us

Source: preservationnation.org

Did we all see the other day how Ned cleverly inserted the word “Jerk-hattan” into a post? I loved it. As a good friend of mine is fond of saying: “I laughed ’til I peed.”

Amusing as it was, it also touches upon a very serious subject we need to talk about here today: cross-town rivalries. On a microcosmic scale, we all know that Brooklyn and Manhattan are natural adversaries; but from a much larger, national vantage point, us New Yorkers will put our regional differences aside and band together to face-off against the real enemy: New Jerk-sey. As a New Yorker, it is not difficult to have civic pride, and a quick journey through Elizabeth, NJ, over the Goethals Bridge brilliantly drives this point home. In fact, a quick jaunt over the Goethals, which offers magnificent vistas of New Jersey’s tank farms, could make anyone wish they were driven home, post-haste.

However, for all of our eight-million-plus residents that have opted to live here, versus the barely quarter of a million who live in Newark, our thriving tourism, Broadway, endless sports attractions, and more, there is one area in which New Jersey threatens to outrival us, and that is our beloved boardwalk.

The New York Post ran a small item the other day, which avowed that, after strong opposition, the Coney Island Boardwalk “is no longer in danger of becoming a sidewalk.” Not exactly. Instead of replacing a quarter of a mile — roughly one eighth — of the boardwalk with cement, the Parks Department will install “a small concrete pathway through the center of this five-block stretch — with synthetic wood taking up the rest of the 51-foot-wide space,” a plan endorsed by Community Board 13’s Parks Committee:

The 12-foot-wide cement path for emergency vehicles would take up 20 percent on this boardwalk section being studied near Coney Island Avenue in Brighton Beach. It’s a big drop-off from earlier plans in which the cement made up anywhere from one-third to all of the test area.

I’m sorry, but this chaps my behind. New *feh* Jersey has seven beautiful boardwalks, all made out of wood (the lone exception being a segment of the Keansburg, NJ, boardwalk, partially made out of asphalt), along its 127-miles of sandy beaches, providing pleasant wooden thoroughfares for residents and “Bennies” alike to happily stroll upon, and we can’t get our acts together for one stinking 2.5-mile long boardwalk — our only boardwalk? (The one in Staten Island doesn’t count).

As Brooklynites, is our Pearl by the Sea not significantly steeped in enough history — the Cyclone, Wonder Wheel, Parachute Jump, Steeplechase Park, Luna Park, Child’s Restaurant, Nathan’s, Faber’s Fascination, and God knows what else — to merit real boardwalk repair and preservation like everyone else, with some measure of dignity perhaps, so that we are not the laughing stock of seaside boardwalks everywhere?

Even a portion of our boardwalk being comprised of concrete is lame, as it detracts from the character not only of the boardwalk itself, but of Coney Island as a whole. It’s not unlike (to me at least) some arrogant vulgarian establishing a flashy, out-of-character business in an historic district, and completely disregarding standards of uniformity or conservation.

Adding insult to injury: “As more funding becomes available, officials hope to replace the rest of the boardwalk the same way — except the historic Coney Island amusement district, which would remain all wood.”

Whatever. Since we’re so anti-wood and anti-historic preservation, why don’t we also tear down the Parachute Jump, repurpose the salvageable parts, and use them to transform the Cyclone into a steel roller coaster?

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