“As Coney Faces Change, Arts Venues Rush To Exhibit Photos of Amusement Area”
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 25 February 2008
By Henry Stewart
Special to Brooklyn Daily Eagle
CONEY ISLAND — As residents, developers and the city duke it out over Coney Island’s future, artists, curators and editors are looking back to its past.
Photographs of the storied amusement area, showing the neighborhood both as it is and once was, are on display across the city in museums, bars, galleries and on the pages of magazines.
“It’s an excellent time to revisit the history,” said Patrick Amsellem, the associate curator of photography at the Brooklyn Museum and organizer of the show, “Goodbye, Coney Island?” running through early April.
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Photo courtesy Brooklyn Museum; artist unknown
Modern 1947 Coney Island, 1947; Gelatin silver print, Sheet: 11 X 14 in. (27.9 X 35.6 cm)
An original video piece on the dilapidated condition of the Coney Island/Brighton Beach boardwalk:
On a recent afternoon, Charles Reichenthal, better known as “Chuck,” pushed his chair out from his computer and walked towards the television that sits in the corner of his Coney Island office. A quiz show was on and the question was about poetry.
“e.e. cummings!,” he shouted at the contestant on the screen. “It’s e.e. cummings!”
Reichenthal’s knowledge of trivia, whether it’s books, music, theater, film or baseball, knows no bounds, say his friends.
“Now, if you ask me my telephone number,” Reichenthal said, “I couldn’t tell you.”
He has been the district manager of Brooklyn’s Community Board 13 for over a decade, but as much as he may enjoy his role in greasing the gears of local government, his heart of hearts is in the arts.
“Everything else is just to get by,” said Marty Markman, who has known Reichenthal since the 1970’s. “A life in the arts, that’s what he wanted more than anything else.”
This Thanksgiving, over 200 residents of Gravesend’s Marlboro Houses will have a turkey roasting in the oven thanks to the efforts and generosity of one woman: Sara Lee McWhite.
McWhite, who grew up at the Brooklyn housing project and still lives there, has been giving away turkeys to the houses’ neediest residents around Thanksgiving Day for the last 16 years. She also gives out toys to the development’s underprivileged children at Christmastime.
Though officially a community coordinator for the New York City Housing Authority, McWhite runs these events on her own.
“I ain’t Rockefeller,” she said. “But this is me, this isn’t Housing.”
A slideshow about Saturday’s anti-war protest in downtown Manhattan. Click here or on the picture to watch.
The Cyclone doesn’t rattle, the Wonder Wheel doesn’t turn and Astroland doesn’t make a peep.
Many of Coney Island’s tourist attractions are closed for the cold seasons—including the beach, officially—but that doesn’t mean that there are a lack of tourists or a lack of places to grab a beer.
Labor Day marks the end of the business season for most of the rides and restaurants, but, thanks in large part to an Indian summer, several spots on the boardwalk and elsewhere were still open on Wednesday afternoon to cater to the few people, mostly tourists, continuing to patronize Coney Island’s watering holes.