Today, as we celebrate the opening of the new Luna Park, the Municipal Art Society takes pride not only in our early efforts to make Coney an accessible destination, but also in our recent work creating a vision for Coney Island’s revitalization.
Securing Coney Island’s future as a world-class seaside destination required very creative thinking from New York City’s planning, preservation and economic development arenas. The Municipal Art Society was pleased to contribute “ImagineConey” to the mix in 2008; “ImagineConey” was an initiative that brought forth many visions for the area and reinforced Coney’s status as one of New York’s most iconic neighborhoods. The breadth and diversity of the submissions we received made it very clear that the public — from near and far and from all walks of life — cares very deeply about the future of Coney Island.
Although the visions for the new Coney were diverse, they all supported a mix of new development and preservation of the many structures that remind visitors of Coney Island’s history. It is, therefore, very disturbing to learn that there are plans to destroy many of Coney Island’s oldest and most historically significant structures, leaving vacant lots and temporary shacks along Surf Avenue. Most of these buildings were once used by small amusement and food businesses, and should be used again this summer to help make Coney Island the lively and fun-filled destination that the society hopes it continues to be.
Vin Cipolla is president of The Municipal Art Society of New York.