Southern Brooklyn

Coney Island’s West 8th Street Walkway Was Torn Down Over The Weekend

Photo By Allan Shweky
Photo By Allan Shweky

The shark-painted walkway stretching over Surf Avenue at the corner of West 8th Street was torn down over the weekend, just like the city promised.

Last May, we reported that the rusted bridge was being dismantled for safety reasons. Originally, the bridge was put up 50 years ago to transfer people coming off of the Culver and Brighton lines into the then newly built aquarium.

Critics, including City Council candidate Todd Dobrin, charged that the removal of the overpass would make the intersection less safe, as pedestrians would have to contend with traffic. Allan Shweky, who runs Friends of Ocean Parkway, a blog focused on pedestrian safety, provided us with the images of the now removed overpass and lent his thoughts.

“As you know a traffic light will replace the bridge. There will be a new entrance to the Boardwalk on West 10 Street but the walk from the subway will force subway riders to cross a crowded Surf Avenue to get to the beach. Will be as safe as the Stillwell Avenue intersection which is not saying much,” Shweky told us.

coney island walkway 2
Photo By Allan Shweky
coney island walkway 3
Photo By Allan Shweky

Comment policy


  1. Another infrastructure dismantled because we don’t want to pay for maintenance. As our great nation crumbles before our eyes we delude ourselves with our past glories. In any case, subways are not intended for the movers and shakers of our society, no need to cater to them.

  2. Bloomberg and the bike nut commissioner are both idiots who can not be run out of town soon enough. They should have repaired the damn thing that would have made the most sense. Now it will be much less safe for pedestrians, drivers and everybody else over there.

  3. This is an absolute disgrace. For a change like this, a public hearing should have been required. Did the City even do an engineering study to prove the bridge was dangerous? To me it looked like it was in pretty good condition and didn’t look dangerous at all. I wouldn’t be surprised if all it needed was a paint job and the City just wants less infrastructure to maintain. I took pictures of it during the Mermaid Day Parade and it was absolutely jammed. Probably the most used overpass in NYC because it didn’t require any stairs at either end if you were going from the subway to the Boardwalk.

    The City should be required to construct another one in its place which will never happen. We just have zero accountability and elected officials who don’t care about us which is why we need Todd Dobrin in the City Council.

    Ugly structures are erected to replace bathrooms that were never damaged. No one will admit they were erected by mistake so they become unneeded lifeguard stations that were never planned and no one has to admit that a dumb mistake was made and the public just accepts them. We don’t even know if these structures will withstand a tornado or future hurricanes or will become flying torpedoes in a severe storm because proper engineering studies were never done.

  4. i’ll never forget all the blunts i smoked near the base of it on the aquarium side. RIP walkway, i’ll miss your piss stench and scary seediness (which is really what it was known for)

  5. After the city made those claims I took numerous walks on the overpass. There seemed to be no evidence that the structure was unstable, even in a moderately strong wind. But this thoroughfare made it easier for the subway class to get to the various attractions on the other side of Surf. The “New” Coney Island is not for them. So the inviting entrance had to be removed.

  6. Sorry Lisanne, but I dont buy for a second that this is some attempt to make it more difficult for the “subway class” to get to “New Coney Island.” There’s a lot of racism and classism in this city’s government, but this ain’t it. More likely that a traffic signal is cheaper to maintain, even if it means they have to scrape a few kids off the ground now and then.

  7. I don’t get it. This was a very easy, important way to get from two subway lines right to the boardwalk. Why knock it down? Because it needed repairs? Then let’s knock the government down!
    This is the craziest decision of many crazy decisions I’ve seen. Somebody explain it to me. They want to get people to come to Coney, and they do something to make it a little more difficult!
    Really, somebody explain this decision to me.

  8. And after they scrape the kids off the ground, they will try to narrow the street and perhaps add a bike lane or cameras to “curb speeding” even if it slows down traffic to a crawl because no one in this city should be driving anywhere.

    If they can’t stop speeding, they will be just as happy by raking in the extra revenue the cameras will bring in from cars doing 36 mph who are not really causing any danger.

    But maintaining a very well-used and needed overpass? That is out of the question.

  9. Lisa, I’ve been walking that thing too, for decades. In fact, I too was walking it much recently, coming back from Tom’s Diner to head to the Trump Shopping Center. There’s nothing wrong with it. Repairs were actually done on it, I don’t know, time flies, maybe a decade ago. The city government is far more broken than that overpass. There’s never been any sway of any sort. I have never had ANY thought while I was walking it, that anything was remotely wrong with it.

    I’ll tell you all something else. I am VERY VERY familiar with the West 8th&Surf intersection. You will now read of some serious accidents there due to increased pedestrian traffic . There’s plenty of reckless driving already there. Cars make lots of U-turns on West 8th, I’m not sure why (you’d think Motor Vehicles, but I see it on weekends too), but they do so in pretty dangerous fashion. Plus, you have cars coming into and out of the Aquarium parking lot, and sometimes pedestrians (me) can’t easily pick that up, it’s a weird angle. Add to that the natural speeding on Surf Avenue Raceway, and it’s a lethal mixture.

    To paraphrase, the city is a ass.

  10. They spent a lot of money to built a complex overpass leading to Brooklyn Bridge Park. What is the demographic that makes use of that venue?

    This bridge needed little more than some timely maintenance. So it wasn’t about cost, it was about making life just a little more difficult for the people who use subways to travel to Coney Island.

  11. Shut the fuck up Allan. Enough of your NIMBY Shit. A pedestrian island would do the same for safety as the bridge and bike lanes would be great in an area known for ***amusement and recreation***. How in the fuck you think you’re qualified to write about transportation when you’re wrong 75% of the time, or that feel you should be consulted about anything anywhere is an absurd notion.

    While this bridge might have been beautiful at one point it has become a dilapidated and rusty piece of crap that was dangerous and an eye sore. Good riddance!

  12. One doesn’t need a degree when one see obviously compromised structures still being used, while this one is in fact, designed well enough to deal with the stress of being in a place with intense winds.

  13. The aquarium has spent a lot of money redesigning their parking lot. I think that says a lot about the demographic they want as visitors. And when they indicated that the overpass was no longer something advantageous to them the city was free to do what they wanted to for some time.

    Surf Avenue looks like a real automotive concourse now.

  14. I walked that bridge for the first time just a month ago. I was surprised and delighted to find it there, and it seemed in at least as good shape as much of the boardwalk. This is vandalism of our infrastructure by our governing class. I wonder if it has been torn down so as to deliver more pedestrian traffic to the all the new storefronts on the street? I bet the big land-owners see this as something that could help them raise their rents.

  15. The problem with the ‘shark bridge’ and who should repair it is classic NYC bureaucracy. The portion that still is connected to the train station is maintained by the MTA. The portion that still stands on the Aquarium property is owned and maintained by either the Aquarium or the Parks Dept. The portion that is now gone, no one claimed ownership of. No one owns it, no one can repair it. It did need repairs. Major repairs? don’t think so. Robert Moses built the bridge. That intersection of Surf and West 8th is a pedestrian nightmare now. On the north side of Surf Ave, there is only one sidewalk cut, right at the corner. But there is no pedestrian crossing signal telling people when it is ok to cross surf going from the north to south side of the street. About 10 feet east of the corner there is a pedestrian crossing light, but no sidewalk cut. Even at the former bus stop, they rebuilt the sidewalk with no sidewalk cut on the north side, but they did install one at the south side. The demolition of the Shark bridge should have been the last step, instead of step #3

  16. correction… I meant 10 feet west of the intersection, towards west 10th street, which also doesn’t have a sidewalk cut

  17. I remember when my daughter was a preschooler, we took car service in the rain to the aquarium, they actually wouldn’t let the driver drop us off there.

  18. They want rich folk to come to Coney. Not us native New Yorkers who probably aren’t in the Bloomberg tax bracket. Rich folk don’t walk over an overpass and hipsters while they do take the subway, given the plans for that intersection, probably are going to bike there. Thats what we get for keeping someone from Boston with an ego in office and for mocking him during his handling of Sandy and snowstorms.

  19. “Robert Moses built the bridge.” Now, that seems interesting. It is well known that Bloomberg HATES Robert Moses and anything associated with him. That is probably the #1 reason it was torn down. Funny though, that for everything that Moses did, this is definitely one he did right to benefit EVERYBODY. But Bloomberg doesn’t see that, whether it’s because there was no room for bicycles on it or just something his adversary built. Guess it was decided to just get rid of it, instead of rebuild and redesign like he seems to be doing with everything else Moses designed. (i.e. the Belt Parkway).

  20. They have a huge and somewhat underutilized parking lot. I think they have rethought their priorities and decided that cars are needed to justify the size of it.

    The facilities are set back a distance from the street. People now will have to walk through the lot to get to the buildings.

  21. i dont really understand what youre alluding to. are you saying that the people who run the amusement area are purposefully making bad business decisions? and that they should not cater to the people who visit coney island that actually pump dollars into it?

  22. Have they asked the people who come to Coney Island what their opinions on these matters were?

    Don’t assume that people want to see the familiar destroyed.

  23. im just trying to understand your previous comments. youre making it like the people who run business in the area want certain demographics to patronize their establishments while discouraging other demographics. do you think this line of thinking for them is based on anything other than bottom line profits? i dont think they give a shit who comes to the aquarium or who rides the cyclone or visits the beach, as long as their money is green and as long as they dont discourage other people from coming there as well. isnt that just proper business management?

  24. I think that is somewhat simplistic. The “perception” of Coney Island in the recent past is of a place filled with undesirables. These sort of people were of certain ethnicities and income levels. Like as not, there is still a level of xenophobia in this country, and even in this city.

    The parks that Zamperla runs have costly rides. Those with better resources will spend more of it in those places. So they are the target market that has to be encouraged. The rest are expendable. They call that demographic positioning and it is a common business model.

  25. You need to know and understand Coney Island history. Yes Robert Moses built the bridge. Moses was anti-amusement, which is why he built Luna Park Housing where Luna Park amusement park stood. The NY Aquarium was built where Dreamland was. He also built Coney Island Housing project to the west of Steeplechase to create another boundary. Moses built that bridge to get people from walking through the amusement land to go to the beach and the aquarium. Some people feel the bridge created a artificial boundary for amusement rides, nothing east of the bridge, and killed amusement businesses on the north side of Surf Ave. Bloomberg had nothing to do with this except failure to tell some city department, stop pointing fingers at who is responsible, and just fix it.

  26. The demolition of the former Astrotower to the Zamperla stump was due to the incompetence of Zamperla’s engineers, not realizing the removal of the gondola and counter weights helped stabilize the tower. Without it, the sway made people nervous. City engineers never said the tower was in danger of collapse, but made people nervous. Zamperla also lied saying they needed to remove the gondola due to damage from Sandy as they had permits to remove it months before Sandy struck.

  27. Yes, the city, and Zamperla have made bad business decisions. See my comment about the Astrotower. The city not only screwed up the intersection of West 8th and Surf, but also how they are rebuilding sections of the Boardwalk.

  28. Sadly… this is true, and far from the truth too. Perception and reality are 180 degrees apart. If you ask people what Astroland looked like, they would say it was a old decrepit amusement park who didn’t even bother painting the Astrotower for a number of years. but that is a total lie. Astroland was kept nice and clean, and Zamperla/CAI would kill for the crowds Astroland used to get.
    I also feel they are installing rides that are too costly for the average person to ride. I feel Zamperla/CAI didn’t want to repair the Astrotower (it did need some parts, but wasn’t a basket case) as it wasn’t in line with their image of thrill rides. They removed the gondola and counter weights to turn the tower into another Parachute Jump lighting package.

  29. But perception is relative to the individual. My “perception” of coney island (both the park area and the actual neighborhood), as someone who was born and raised in searise projects on west 33rd and neptune, IS that its a place full of undesirables. Especially going back 15+ years ago.
    Why does it necessarily have to be a race or socio-economic issue? I think it is as simple as people are trying to run their businesses right. This isnt some “oh look the man is trying to once again screw the poor working class” situation. And im not sure why you want it to be.
    I dont understand what your alternative would be. Make the rides cheaper? Decrease profits? Make the entire place less desirable for future businesses there? With your logic nothing should ever be expensive because it will naturally exclude a lot of people from enjoying it.
    What is wrong with demographic positioning? Sometimes its used in reverse as well (ie make a product or service desirable for poorer people). Are you not in favor of it then too?

  30. Really? from what i understand theyre turning a nice profit over there. At least thats how it seems. theres always huge crowds, tons of families, people seemingly enjoying themselves both in the amusement area and the beaches (which are free for all to enjoy). just because theyve done things you dont agree with or like doesnt necessarily mean theyre making bad business decisions. It means theyre making bad Bruce from Coney Island decisions.

  31. When they decided not to repair, but re-purpose the former Astrotower into a light tower, they set things in motion that closed most of Coney Island right before the July 4th holiday. That was a good decision?? They just didn’t take the time to understand what they were doing and talk to the people who cared for the attraction. The Dept of Buildings clearly blamed the situation on not realizing the consequences of removing the gondola and counter weight system.

  32. The speed limit is not what is safe on all streets. It is an average number. On many streets 35 is perfectly safe and 40 if you are away from parked cars. In fact the speed limit is purposely set lower than what is safe.

    On some very narrow streets where 30 is the limit, it isn’t safe to do more than 20 or 25.

  33. Good point! That’s the same reason merchants are against a bus terminal in Flushing, to keep pedestrian traffic on the sidewalks no matter how crowded they get.

  34. haha come on thats ridiculous, how does this look:

    or this:

    youre talking to a person who literally walks around that area and takes pictures of garbage for fun/arts sake and posts it on their blog. when i get home from work ill post some pics i took a few years ago at the actual park of mounds of trash and garbage that was dumped there (probably by locals)

  35. So yes, let us price Coney Island out of the reach of many working people.

    It certainly is about changing the demographic. And freezing out the people who kept Coney Island alive when many people abandoned it is an acceptable business model.

  36. I can show you tons of photographs of mounds of garbage in Sheepshead Bay. Do a search for garbage on this site.

    Perhaps you think this neighborhood needs a change of demographics.

  37. as far as i know sheepshead is not world famous for its dirtiness (believe it or not, CI parks are). also im not exactly talking about the neighborhood of coney (as filthy as it is), im talking about the parks themselves. also for the record i love the demographics of both these areas, being a current resident of sheepshead and a former one of coney.

  38. im a working person who can easily afford to visit coney island. also i dont agree with your second statement at all.
    no one kept coney alive in the 80s and 90s and it wasnt until these corporations showed up after the turn of the century that things started turning around (when i say turning around i mean people felt like they could come to the area with their families without being mugged or stabbed)

  39. ok im sorry this is getting a bit abstract and twilight zonish for me. to recap: bruce was saying ‘in the past luna park was kept clean’, i said ‘no it wasnt’, he said ‘yes it was, here is a picture of it clean’, i said ‘oh yea? here are some of it dirty’.then you chimed in by saying you can also show pictures of a dirty sheepshead bay(which has nothing to do with the original topic), then i tried to stare the convo back to the original point: luna park was never really known as a nice clean place, as a matter of fact it was know nas the opposite. you came back with check out these other unrelated links about A. overflowing garbage cans not in luna park and B. council members some of which keep their parks clean some of which dont . we’re talking about something simple like “this was clean” or “this was not”, please dont make it anymore complicated than that. the only thing you can add is “oh yes, i confirm, it was clean” or “oh no, i disagree, it was not clean” thanks.

  40. ok i guess the luna park i grew up in is different than the one you remember, i mean im not that old and my memory typically is very good but i suppose its possible i dreamt up those hundreds of childhood memories out of psychosis

  41. So it was empty streets and abandoned buildings.

    I must have imagined Astroland, Wonder Wheel Park, and the scores of small businesses in the area.

  42. That first photo from Kinetic carnival is my photo. It was taken on Sitt/Thor Equities Stillwell Ave lands. The second photo is the Boardwalk. We are talking Astroland, right? Not the city or Thor Equities?? What are you going to do, give me a photo of the Freshkills Dump in Staten Island and say that is Astroland?? Everyone can recognize Astroland in my photo. Your photos are meaningless in this discussion.

  43. This is ridiculous. We are talking Astroland, not Luna Park. I showed a image of Astroland. Your images are not of Astroland.

  44. I remember when the small furniture stores on Surf Avenue were forced out claiming they kept the street alive during Coney’s roughest time and this is how the City rewards them.

  45. The furniture stores broke city laws, and should never have been allowed to be in business. simply put, they broke zoning laws. It would be the same if someone opened a factory next door to where you live and kept you awake with the noise. No difference.

  46. I don’t know, were they that stupid? Or planned on having the tower taken down and purposely planned this? I do know that Zamperla/CAI ordered and had in their possession the lighting package they intended to install on the tower. But I don’t think they thought it out too well. For years the Alberts used the gondola to paint the tower. After all it was just like a elevator. There is also the famous story about building the Citcorp Building. A engineering student saw a fatal flaw in the design of the building which prompted emergency work on it.
    Engineers aren’t gods, but humans who make mistakes. Just ask the builder of the Titanic 🙂 Were they that stupid or did they plan this?? We will never know the true answer.

  47. Remembering saying this??

    in what dimension was astroland ever kept nice and clean?!?!? or i should ask in what decade…
    We are still talking Astroland… that is not Astroland. For your information, Astroland was where Luna Park is now, that is bordered, but not including Surf Ave to the Boardwalk, West 10th to Jones Walk. I believe you took a photo of Henderson Walk between Surf ave to the Bowery. Shoot the freak was never part of Astroland. Those who don’t know, shouldn’t speak. Outsiders who don’t know anything about Coney Island, shouldn’t comment about Coney island. Fabers was in the Henderson Building which bordered Stilwell Ave to Surf Ave to Henderson Walk, to the Bowery.

  48. Bruce if you want to talk semantics and point out how the area where i took those pics is literally a few hundred feet way from the area that we are talking about, thats fine. my mistake. im talking about the entire amusement area as a whole. basically from the aquarium to the ballpark is a shithole and that goes as far back as most living people can remember. maybe your definition of shithole is different than mine but thats not a conversation worth having now. i know where shoot the freak was but thats not where it was stored or where that picture was taken (if you really want to talk specifics, why not start pointing out each others typos while we’re at it?). that being said, calling someone who was born and raised in the deep shitty rat infested jungles of crack island an outsider only serves one true purpose: to show how much of a smart boy you really are. thanks.


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