Despite a city-encouraged facelift and a jump in visitors, Coney Island is far from the Brooklyn version of Times Square that many feared it would become. So far, park patrons told the New York Times, Coney has strayed from becoming too sanitized and “Disneyfied.”
As previously reported, the clean-up of Coney Island shed some of its gritty attractions for new rides and shops that attract tourists, family-friendly entertainment and new development. Developer Joseph Sitt even said he wants to bring casinos to the Brooklyn neighborhood if the state legalizes gambling down the line.
Dick Zegun, whom the Times billed as the unofficial mayor of Coney Island, was once among the most vocal critics of the city’s plan. But now he told the Times, “Instead of a tarnished trademark and has-been neighborhood, we have turned the corner and Coney Island is once again an industry leader in the amusement industry, which it invented.”
As of 2011, visitors were up year-over-year to 640,000 from 400,000. In addition, popular pizza eatery Grimaldi’s will open a location on Surf Avenue and Tom’s, a famed Prospect Heights diner, is about ready to open a Boardwalk location. Still, the boardwalk has retained some of the character and charm that has drawn New Yorkers for generations, the Times said. [NYT]