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Now Showing at the LPC: Coney Island’s Shore Theater

shore theater coney island

This morning, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously to “calendar” (the first step in the landmark designation process) the Shore Theater building in Coney Island.  MAS President Vin Cipolla said,“MAS has long advocated for the renewal of Coney Island, and the Shore Theater represents Coney Island’s distinct status as a recreation and amusement destination. The Landmarks Commission took a huge step today to ensure that this wonderful theater will play a role in Coney Island’s future.”

During the Coney Island rezoning process, MAS recommended to the City that the area’s historic resources, like the Shore Theater, be protected, as they are key to a revitalized Coney Island.  The Shore Theater has long been one of Coney Island’s most striking buildings.  Opened in 1925 as the Coney Island Theatre and designed by noted theater architects, Reilly & Hall, the Shore Theater sat nearly 2,400 people in its auditorium and featured both live vaudeville shows and moving pictures.  Although it has long been vacant, if reinvigorated, the Shore Theater could present a unique opportunity for theater and other performance space in the amusement area.

The LPC’s action initiated the protection of the entire Shore Theater exterior, including the unadorned rear portion of the building, where the theater is located. MAS has long maintained that any designation of the site should include the entire building, not just the impressive palazzo-style front. Even though it has not been used in decades, the 2,400-seat theater remains intact and could serve as a much-needed new performance venue in Coney Island.

The next step in the landmarking process will be a public hearing, which has not yet been scheduled.  We encourage the public to voice their support for the designation of the entire Shore Theater building at this hearing or through sending letters and emails.  The final designation steps will be the Commission’s vote, followed by a City Council vote.

MAS is hopeful that in 2010, the Shore Theater will join the Cyclone, the Wonder Wheel, the Parachute Jump, and the Child’s Restaurant on the Boardwalk, as an official Coney Island landmark.  For more information on the Shore Theater’s history see “The Shore Theater: A Sure Part of Coney Island’s Future?”.