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New Landmarks Established In Coney Island

CONEY ISLAND USA is pleased to anticipate a vote on January 11th, 2011 by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission to designate its 1917 Child's Restaurant Building on Surf Avenue and West 12th Street (owned and operated by Coney Island USA as a non-profit arts center founded in 1980). That building now joins the other newly landmarked Coney Island Theater Building aka The Shore Theater, the other Child's Restaurant on the Boardwalk, the Cyclone, Parachute Jump and Wonder Wheel as official NYC landmarks. Both recent landmark designations come as a result of nominations to the Landmarks Commission by CIUSA.

The 1917 Child's Restaurant Building currently is home to Sideshows by the Seashore and The Coney Island Museum and also serves as the headquarters of the annual Mermaid Parade and other non-profit art programs. The designation report speaks of Child's as: "a two-story structure with two designed facades, each displaying broad arched openings along the street, a tiled roof and an overhanging, bracketed cornice. The Spanish Revival style facade was created of white-painted concrete with decorative triangular panels of Terra-cotta mosaics inset in the arch spandrels. The concrete helped make it fireproof and its dramatic style helped it fit into the resort atmosphere of Coney Island...Although the Spanish (or the variant Mediterranean) Revival style was more often found on buildings in warmer climates, such as in Florida or the Caribbean, the designer of this structure (John Corley Westervelt) was hoping to suggest this same kind of vacation-oriented en vironment for a building in the heart of New York's most popular resort area."

The applications nominating these two buildings were the result of research funded by the JM Kaplan Fund, and researched by architectural historian Jane Cowan. In anticipation of landmark status, CIUSA has recently completed a Phase One upgrade of the building exterior, including repair of exterior lighting that had not worked in three decades.

Coney Island USA purchased our historic home in 2007, with assistance from the NYC Dept of Cultural Affairs, and the participation of Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, City Councilman Domenic Recchia, NYC Economic Development Corporation and the Coney Island Development Corporation.

Repair of the exterior architectural lighting was funded through the generosity of our individual and corporate supporters, including Melissa Baldock, Steve Bernstein and Joseph Sitt of Thor Equities.

At a time when other historic buildings are being demolished in Coney Island, CIUSA is proud to set an example of rehabilitation and renewal, showing the world how positive development and an understanding of the historic landscape can help build a tourist destination. Although we do not own and cannot force the reactivation of the Coney Island Theater Building, we are also proud to have played a major role in saving that building for future use as well.


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