A Portrait of Coney Island

A Portrait of Coney Island

Absorb the sights and sounds of a famously rough-edged amusement park that is in danger of going upscale.
The birthplace of the roller coaster and the American hot dog is in danger of falling into the same powerful grip of New York City gentrification that cleaned up Times Square and brought luxury lofts to Hell’s Kitchen. A mall and commercial real estate developer has amassed much of Coney Island’s six-block-long amusement area, and, pending final city approval, is planning a $1.5 billion redesign of the area into an upscale techno theme park with retail space, high-rise timeshare towers and hotels.

Supporters of the snazzy redevelopment say the run-down place needs a new 21st century look that is better suited to New York’s evolution into a city that is safer, cleaner and richer than at any point in its modern history. But other New Yorkers are aghast, seeing it as the symbolic last nail in the coffin of the rough-edged fun that once made New York so special.

This Washington Post video neatly captures the sights and sounds of the carny barker’s pitch, the roller coaster squeals, the sideshow freak’s performance – using all ambient audio and no narration or interviews – augmented by five interactive 360-degree panoramic views of a classic tourist attraction that may not be visible for much longer.

Length: 3:00

Video and panoramic composites: Travis Fox
Design and Production: Nelson Hsu
Editor: Tanya N. Ballard