As developers dismantle restore the Coney Island boardwalk in anticipation of the park's umpteenth comeback season (where did it ever go?), wily entrepreneurs are salvaging the planks and turning them into pricey furniture. Does the future of NYC's past lie in the same chaise lounge you do?
With these designs, Jason Horvath and Bill Hilgendorf of Uhuru Design have come up with a perfect trend storm. The furniture is vintage. It qualifies as found art. And it taps into New Yorkers' nauseous nostalgia about their changing city. It also co-opts that nostalgia and sells it, or at least some of the pieces, for upwards of a very un-Coney $7,000.
That said, the pieces look cool. And better to keep those historic planks alive than to let them join the condom- and stool pigeon corpse-strewn detritus already floating out into the Atlantic beyond Coney Island's pristine shores.
But if New York's quirky public places continue to vanish, will the only relics of shared city history be found in luxury apartments? Will Florent's formica tables make their way to a Park Avenue floor-through? Will Bob and Cortney Novogratz collect the crushed, powdery MDMA remains from the Limelight Marketplace's floors and sprinkle them into their 31 kids' cereal? It would make for a wacky season finale!
And will Eliot Spitzer keep a vintage 42nd Street hooker on display in his servant quarters? Don't answer that.
Horvath appreciates Coney Island's scuzzy history even if his polished home design recreations don't evoke it:
"When we get this stuff, it's covered with chewing gum. It's cracked open. There's screw holes from where they reattached it in 10 spots. ...It's been worn down and used for all those years."
I hope the new and "improved" Coney Island boardwalk retains some of that old-school charm. And offers it to everyone and their dirty feet for free.
Photo via Francesca Andre/NYDN