The storied Coney Island Boardwalk has been deemed a scenic landmark, 95 years to the day after its opening.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted on Tuesday, May 15 to designate the Coney Island Riegelmann Boardwalk – first opened on May 15, 1923 – a scenic landmark in recognition of its cultural and historical significance.
Landmark designation recognizes the nearly-century old stretch of wood as one of Southern Brooklyn’s historic locations, while also providing a layer of protection and an opportunity for local residents to weigh in on the structure’s future.
However, although scenic landmark status protects the Boardwalk’s physical presence along the coastline and its general parameters including configuration, for scenic landmarks, LPC review of alterations will be advisory only, with the Public Design Commission having binding jurisdiction, or final say, over the Boardwalk.
But, that’s not to say the agency won’t work hard to protect it, a spokesperson for LPC told this paper when public hearings on the decision were being calendared.
“I am incredibly proud and excited that the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission has recognized the need to preserve and protect this beloved structure, as well as an integral piece of southern Brooklyn’s rich culture, history and tradition,” said Councilmember Mark Treyger who, alongside Councilmember Chaim Deutsch, led the charge in securing the City Council’s support in landmarking the site in early 2016. “The Coney Island Riegelmann Boardwalk embodies the American democratic spirit and continues to be an iconic symbol of our city and our country, but it’s also a vital part of our local community to this very day.
“The Boardwalk is where our children, seniors and families gather to enjoy each other’s company, where local residents leisurely stroll to relax, enjoying its breathtaking views, while others jog to stay fit. It’s the place where southern Brooklynites can go to reconnect with the beauty of the natural world,” he went on. “That’s what makes this designation so important. Landmark status ensures that, no matter what, there will always be a Coney Island Boardwalk.”
“We are so proud to designate the Coney Island Boardwalk a Scenic Landmark,” said LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan. “The Coney Island Boardwalk is as much a part of the culture as it is a part of the history of New York City. It is a beloved public space that reflects our city’s values of tolerance, inclusivity and equity.”
Named after once-Brooklyn Borough President Edward Riegelmann, who played a leading role in its creation, the Boardwalk has long attracted tourists from all over the world. Today, it continues to connect Brooklynites, stretching nearly three miles from West 37th Street at the border of Coney Island and Sea Gate to Brighton 15th Street in Brighton Beach.
“Coney Island’s an iconic part of New York City’s history and we are honored to have the Boardwalk join our numerous other landmarks including the Cyclone, Wonder Wheel, Parachute Jump and Childs Restaurant,” said Alexandra Silversmith, executive director of the Alliance for Coney Island. “As a quintessential part of the Coney Island experience, we are excited to have it continue to be part of our landscape for generations to come.”
Borough President Eric Adams also applauded the designation. “For 95 years and counting, the Riegelmann Boardwalk has offered children and families from Brooklyn and beyond a pathway to the carnival of Coney Island, connecting generations of memories. The same wooden walkway that inspired artists as diverse as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Beyoncé still inspires millions of people who enjoy its unique character. By designating the Riegelmann Boardwalk as a scenic landmark, the Landmarks Preservation Commission is protecting for future generations an institution that defines Brooklyn as a destination unlike anywhere else in the world,” he said.
The request for evaluation of the site was first filed in December of 2014 by Treyger and Coney Island historian Charles Denson.