"Song Of Brooklyn" America's Favorite Borough
The book opens with none other than our fabled and iconic neighborhood of Coney Island.
Even though Brooklyn is still rowdy, tough and energetic, it is also now hip, elegant and wealthy. How it can be all those things at once is simply one of the many mysteries of the borough. This charming history sings a song of Brooklyn's immense complexity.
The entrepreneurship, hucksterism and drive of those who converted its glorious
waterfront into one of the most loved amusement parks of all time roil and roll like the Cyclone. As with so many Brooklyn neighborhoods, Coney's story is one of greatness, decline unto near death, followed by the long climb back.
WCBS disc jockey Don K. Reed ("Doo Wop Shop") points out a recurring New York tragedy when he talks about the government-induced destruction of Coney. "You know what killed me about that?" he asks about urban renewal. "When they tore down the Steeplechase, I think it was 1964, the square block it had been on stayed empty for more than 35 years." In 2001 the city finally opened Keyspan Park for a minor-league team owned by the Mets.
Eliot is hopeful that developer Joe Sitt will be able to bring Coney back to renown. He named his company, Thor Equities, after his favorite comic book hero, says Sitt, because Thor was the "protector of the Planet Earth's buildings from the evil goblins from outer space seeking to destroy them." I'd been thinking that Sitt's rather ostentatious ideas were closer to goblin plans than protecting the Earth, but maybe he's got the right level of grandiosity to bring this off.