Incredibly, it was announced today that the proposed Coney Island Historic District, which would include the bank building above and a number of other historic properties in the area, MEETS THE CRITERIA FOR INCLUSION ON THE STATE AND NATIONAL REGISTRAR OF HISTORIC PLACES, protecting them for generations to come.
If given the designation, the Registers of Historic Places could make grants and tax credits of up to 40% available for redevelopment projects that rehabilitate and reuse historic properties in the amusement area.
Unfortunately, this all may be too late: Thor Equities, run by Lucifer’s personal assistant Joseph Sitt, is moving forward hurriedly on the demolition of four of its properties, including the oldest building in Coney Island. The state office’s letter explicitly cites each of these buildings as being among historic district’s “key buildings.”
Once they are gone, they are never coming back, and honestly, you either fall into one of two categories. Either you realize that a major part of a neighborhood’s value is in its surviving history (see: the entirety of New York City, and why people prefer it to, say, Houston)…or you side with this woman, who commented earlier today in a really suspiciously worded letter. I apologize for the caps, but it’s how she chose to write her comment. Interpret as you will:
SORRY TO BURST YOUR SITT BASHING BUBBLE BUT:
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME ANY OF YOU TOOK YOUR KIDS TO THE SURROUNDING AREA OF THIS BUILDING? DID YOU FEEL GOOD WALKING WITH THEM AND CROSSING THE STREETS? I HAVE IN FACT PARKED MY CAR IN FRONT OF THIS ONCE BEAUTIFUL BANK LESS THAN A MONTH AGO. IN MY PARENTAL PERSPECTIVE IT WOULD BE WONDERFUL IN A PERFECT AND DREAM WORLD TO REFURBISH THIS OLD STRUCTURE AND MAKE SOMETHING USEFUL OUT OF IT. RIGHT NOW THE POSSIBILTY OF THIS HAPPENING IS ABOUT ZERO.
I WELCOME A REVAMPING OF THIS NEIGHBORHOOD INCLUDING THE BUILDINGS ACROSS THE STREET. I WOULD LIKE MY CHILDREN TO FEEL SAFE WALKING DOWN THIS BLOCK AND THE SURROUNDING BLOCKS OF CONEY ISLAND. PUTTING UP NEW HOTELS AND STORE-FRONT BUSINESSES WOULD ADD JOBS AND SAFETY TO THIS HISTORIC AREA. I WONDER IF YOU ANY OF YOU WOULD CHOOSE TO RAISE YOUR CHILDREN IN A NEW CLEAN HOME OR RATHER CHOOSE TO LIVE IN A DECREPIT (YET SAVED) MAUSOLEUM FILLED WITH CRACK COCAINE. I PERSONALLY WOULD RATHER HAVE THIS NEIGHBORHOOD CLEANED UP! GOOD FOR YOU JOE SITT- I AM ONE MOTHER WHO WANTS THIS BLOCK CLEANED UP AND THE CONEY ISLAND EXPERIENCE BACK TO THE CLASS IT ONCE HAD.
What frightens me most about this letter is how wildly it misses the point of all this, under the misguided belief that a new hotel and a few strip malls will suddenly turn Coney Island into a flourishing vibrant ocean-side resort overnight. Get real. What further confuses me is her idea that it would continue to be an “historic area”…minus the actual history (maybe someone smarter can explain that one to me).
I believe it can certainly be revamped over time, but tearing out the heart of its character simply leaves you with an address and nothing more. And personally, I would MUCH prefer to raise my kids in a new clean apartment built into the former bank building than I would a bland, boring, modern high-rise, in which my children get no sense of history or character as they progress through their most formative years, ultimately growing into little Joseph Sitt Jrs (good ol’ fashioned nightmare fuel right there).
As much as it saddens me, I don’t believe it’s possible to change the opinions of either Joseph Sitt or the above commenter, and it sucks that news of the historic district came at such a late date. I believe people approach history with one of two mindsets: respect or arrogance. At the very least, it’s nice to know our government sides with the former.
Check out SaveConeyIsland.net for more info and daily updates. Below, a picture from the site showing workmen (without a permit) beginning the demolition of the Henderson Music Hall, where Groucho Marx and his brothers made their debut.