Sandy in Coney: Storm puts dunes on Boardwalk

View from the pier: Rising waters uprooted many of the boards on Steeplechase Pier.
The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Hurricane Sandy lived up to its name in Coney Island.

The powerful storm picked up sand dunes and dropped them atop the Boardwalk, clogged sewers with sediment, and turned inland streets into a beachy scene in a display of Mother Nature’s force that wowed — but didn’t altogether surprise — Coney historian Jay Singer.

“This has been going on for thousands and thousands of years — we’ve only been building here maybe 150 years. So when we call this the worst storm in a century, that’s nothing,” said Singer, a documentarian working on a book tracing the history of the People’s Playground from the Ice Age to the present.

In fact, the forces that made the Boardwalk look like the borough’s answer to the Sahara are just part of the inevitable ebb and flow of nature.

Singer points out that Coney Island — which is part of the barrier chain that includes Long Beach Barrier Island, Jones Beach Island, Fire Island, and Westhampton Island — is simply a sand deposit that accumulated from sediment kicked up and carried in the wind and waves during past storms.

And through centuries of tempests, the shape of the peninsula has constantly changed.

Case in point: the Hotel Brighton went up overlooking the beach at the end of Coney Island Avenue in 1878. But a series of winter storms swept away so much of the shore that after 10 years the hotel was left teetering over the water — forcing the owners to put the building on wheels and use locomotives to pull it 500 feet inland.

Singer argues that most of the lost sand simply moved southward, following currents around the peninsula.

“Where do you think all that sand ended up? It ended up here!” said Singer, the man behind the film “Gotta Love Coney Island,” which aired at the Coney Island Film Festival in September.

Concerns about erosion of Coney’s beaches led city planners to build jutting rock jetties into the water to control sediment movement. The Army Corps of Engineers was constructing similar jetties in Seagate before the storm hit.

But with sand burying much of Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, piling up as high as three feet on streets bordering the Boardwalk, and clogging sewers on Mermaid and Neptune avenues, it’s clear nobody anticipated the scale of the changes Sandy would cause.

Singer, whose roots in the People’s Playground are four generations deep, said it was surreal to see the sands of time moving before his eyes.

“It’s weird that I’m here, witnessing what’s going to be a piece of Coney Island history,” he said.

Updated 5:36 pm, July 9, 2018
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

nancy from coney says:
we are tough well get through this
but comment here who were the dumb asses that put in the new boardwalk with cement under t he boardwalk when storms hit the sand comes up and has nowhere 2 go b4 the cement was put in the sand would go through the boardwalk duhhhhh thats the city 4 u
Nov. 2, 2012, 4:36 pm
Jay Singer from Coney Island says:
Nancy- under normal circumstances you are 100% correct, even more so if we considered the original boardwalk that went OVER the beach, not alongside it. However, this is not normal circumstances. If the boardwalk didn't have the concrete under the planks, in this incident the sand still would have done the same thing. Just too much weight. If you don't believe me, check out the section of Boardwalk between the new carousel and W15th street, where the sand piled up. That section does not have the concrete under it. What I am seeing is sand piles with HOLES in them, where the planks underneath are breaking from the weight, then big bunches of sand finally fall through. It didn't fall through the normal plank gaps because the sand was too wet, and too heavy at one time.
Nov. 2, 2012, 8:02 pm
Pavloveck from Brighton Beach says:
Мои бедные пляж. Грустно. Все, что было разрушено в тот же день. Грустно. Мы должны обвинить наших лидеров. Они все не нас. Почему все, что было там песок? В нижней части хорошо это дерьмо. Юг Шор Бруклин никогда не восстановится, и я плачу. Позволяет рыть могилу для песка свиней. Моя шляпа — на ветру. Кто-то должен плакать для бедных футон магазинов, которые наиболее пострадали. Мы должны все парад до городской ратуши и требуют копать вверх!!!
Nov. 2, 2012, 9:53 pm

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: