Photo Essay by Alex Nathanson
Seedy and rundown, Coney Island is a destination for anyone looking for a day of sun and sand, cheap food, video arcade games and terrifying roller coaster rides for the cost of a subway ride. This summer has seen the Mermaid Parade turn 25, renegade revelers take over the boardwalk, and the streets filled for free shows.
However, zillionaire real estate developer Joseph Sitt has another vision of Coney Island in mind. He is pressing the city to allow him to convert the $150 million in seaside real estate holdings that he has quietly gobbled up in recent years into a glittering Vegasfied themepark/mall complete with three high-rise, luxury hotels and a fleet of blimps to ferry tourists to and from Manhattan. Amidst this standoff, many are wondering if this will be the “real” Coney’s last summer as one of New York’s, and possibly the nation’s, last gritty, cheap places to go for a day of fun.