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Coney Island boardwalk is one step closer to becoming a NYC landmark

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Landmark protection is moving forward for the boardwalk

Max Touhey

The Coney Island boardwalk (officially known as the Riegelmann Boardwalk) is now closer to becoming a NYC landmark. In its weekly meeting today, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted to calendar the boardwalk and its elements—including light fixtures, railings, Steeplechase Pier, its comfort stations, and the sand below the walkway—which puts it on the path to becoming Brooklyn’s fourth scenic landmark.

The wooden portion of the 2.7-mile-long boardwalk dates back to 1923, and is among the few remaining vestiges of Coney Island’s early 20th-century heyday. Others include the Cyclone roller coaster, which opened in 1927, and Deno’s Wonder Wheel, which predates both (it opened in 1920); those were named NYC landmarks in 1988 and 1989, respectively.

The push to designate the boardwalk as a landmark dates back to 2014, when City Council member Mark Treyger first argued that the walkway was deserving of protection. Brooklyn has just three other scenic landmarks—Prospect Park, Ocean Parkway, and Eastern Parkway—and Treyger has repeatedly argued that the boardwalk deserves to be among their ranks. (He was instrumental in getting the City Council to pass a 2016 resolution calling for the LPC to act.)

But the LPC declined to begin the calendaring process in 2014, and in the ensuing years, parts of the boardwalk have been replaced by concrete and plastic. As Curbed columnist Nathan Kensinger reported in 2015, “The Coney Island boardwalk was largely spared from serious damage during [Hurricane Sandy], yet the city has tied its removal to issues of climate change, public safety, and resiliency.” Locals and preservationists have argued that’s not the case, and that the newer sections have in fact fared worse against the elements.

With today’s decision, it’s one step closer to being protected against further changes. LPC chair Meenakshi Srinivasan called it an “incredible opportunity” to preserve a piece of the city’s history.

In terms of next steps, the LPC will hear from the public at a date that’s yet to be determined, and the city’s Public Design Commision would have to get involved as well. The whole process could be wrapped up—and a Coney Island icon may be protected—by the time tourists are strolling along the boardwalk this summer.