Saturday, October 06, 2007

Brooklyn Historian on Coney Island

Wednesday, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle ran an editorial in which their resident 'Brooklyn historian,' John B. Manbeck, places the current Coney Island situation in historical context.

Manbeck points out that the Thor Equities controversy is not the first threat to Coney Island, considering that fire destroyed much of the area's amusement area a century ago, and that since then there have been many changes, including: "a democratization of the beach, the Park Threat by Robert Moses, the Casino Gamble, promised Disney-fication, the Russian Takeover, Horace Bullard's Fantasyland, the Sportsplex, and, now, the Las Vegas Sparkle."

Manbeck's article has a slightly problematic tone, in that he seems to be saying that the changes going on now are more of the same, and that people should just sit back and see what happens. That's his role as a historian, I suppose, but that doesn't mean that people shouldn't stay involved, and work to shape the neighborhoods they live and work in. Nonetheless, Manbeck does give a good overview of the history of the Coney Island amusements.

Manbeck briefly revisited the idea of Coney Island destruction in today's editorial. In a list of historical events entitled 'Brooklyn Through the Years: October, he includes: October 13, 1896: Great storm swept over Coney Island causing erosion of land; Brighton Beach Music Hall wrecked; Iron Pier damaged.

- post by Ben Nadler

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