November 2017
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Public Offers Novel Concepts for Coney Island

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The public has weighed in on what they want to see in Coney Island, and the ideas offer a refreshing burst of (uninhibited) creativity. As part of its initiative to develop new ideas for the design and programming of Coney Island, the Municipal Art Society launched a call for public input. This effort complements a broader initiative, titled ImagineConey, that features a charrette (an intense design workshop) with international amusement experts, leaders of Broadway theater in New York City, and former Disney executives.

MAS hopes that by leveraging global ideas and creativity it can help identify the novel uses that will spark new life in Coney Island and build on the remarkable strides Mayor Bloomberg has made toward a revitalized Coney Island. The design and amusement team is now participating in the charrette, and the results will be publicly presented on Monday, November 17.

A selection of the top public ideas for Coney Island follow. The quotes are the text submitted on the website or at the public meetings.

  • Create a Venice, CA-style Muscle Beach “Set aside a stretch of the beach/boardwalk for a muscle beach type experience, where people can enjoy a work out — to see and be seen. This alone will attract many people to Coney and send a fun, healthy message that is in keeping with the times and resonates with the side-show aspect to the old Coney.” Also suggested: a bathing suit contest for guys and gals.
  • Brooklyn Nets/Nudie Bar/Gambling “Put the Brooklyn Nets there since the damn Atlantic Yards project will seem to never get done. Also a dance club with music arts and a nudie bar — remember when adults were allowed to have adult fun? … The freaks got to stay — that is the home of the freaks in New York — a gambling permit would be great so you wouldn’t have to go to Jersey.”
  • Hologram Facility/Video Wormhole “What about a hologram facility for face-to-face conversations using the technology CNN featured on election night. The technology would have to be tweaked to enable a live person to see the other live person.… Or, maybe it’s more practical to make one of the video walls you see in that television commercial, with a corresponding video wall in some other country, so you can see people looking at you as they see you looking at them. It amounts to a kind of worm-hole to another place. The problem is, which they don’t seem to address on that commercial, is that it would be night in China when it is day here. I suppose you could set up lights.”
  • Dig Hole to China “I think you should maybe just actually dig a hole to China. Get about a half acre of land and dig down until you can’t see the bottom. Create a visitors center where you can look down the hole and throw coins down it. I would take my kids to see that. Eventually the coins will stop going down and settle suspended at the center of gravity in the middle of the earth (not really — lava, too much pressure, etc. — but we don’t have to tell the kids that). You could have a map of where the hole will come out in China (if that’s where it would come out). And perhaps China will start digging from that point to meet in the middle. It could be a gesture of national friendship.”
  • Reestablish Massive Clock “Coney Island needs a CLOCK much like the huge billboard-type Coca-Cola clock that lived on the boardwalk during the 50’s and 60’s …. I propose the clock have a little Tilyou man at center, whose arms act as the arms of the clock and then will spin frantically every hour on the hour, perhaps accompanied by some whirring or whizzing sound.”
  • Outdoor Stage/Indoor Theater for Public Use “I think you should build a massive outdoor stage that performers can use for free. It would draw lots of musicians to Coney and foster the development of bands. You also could create a theater that could be used to do the same thing for actors and acting companies that need a place to stage plays and other performances. It would be great to establish a location for truly edgy, new artistic efforts.”
  • New Fanciful Architecture “New development should rediscover the pleasure of architectural revival: Chinese pagodas, Arabian temples, vernacular German cottages, minarets, magnificent glass pavilions: fanciful, spectacular architectures have always been and should return to be landmarks of Coney Island.”
  • Best Water Ride Ever “ Build a 21st century ‘Shoot the Chutes’ water ride that goes through a fish tank in the Aquarium and lands in the ocean” Also suggested: Booze Ride. “Build a Lazy River Ride that takes you to different beer gardens.”
  • Robots “Include in Coney friendly, interactive robots for kids with personalities in the vein of R2D2 and for adults and teens. Instead of shoot the freak, you shoot free-roaming robots.”
  • Adult Fun Create NYC’s first legal red-light district.
  • New Old Rides “Build updated and wilder versions of historic rides, like the Steeplechase ride with really fast and bumpy horses (with laser tag).”
  • National Eating Hall of Fame “Coney Island was always a place of extremes, but now movies and virtual reality …take people farther from the amusement parks of yesteryear…But people still go to extremes, and one of the most popular annual events in Coney is the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest…Why not have a Hall of Fame that encompasses all eating contests, with photos, memorabilia, and crucial information? Why not have a restaurant that offers that time-old gastronomic wager, a free meal, if someone can eat an extreme amount?”
  • Transport Rides “Build transportation that is also a ride. An idea could be transportation from Downtown Brooklyn to Coney both as a wild roller coaster for teens and a gondola for senior citizens.”
  • Be in Video Game “Create a mechanism like virtual reality that allows you to experience what it would be like to be in a video game like Grand Theft Auto.”
  • Laser Water Show “World’s biggest laser water show using jets in the ocean that sprays water so high that you can see it in Manhattan.”
  • Interspecies Friendship “A surreal vision for Coney Island. A place of fantasy and frolic. A place to befriend sea mammals: seals, walruses, and mermaids. A day at the beach can include an escape to the sea horse track or an excursion inside a sand palace.”