After reports on Wednesday that it was “swaying dangerously,” the Department of Buildings dismantled the top portion of the AstroTower, one of Coney Island’s last historic rides. As welders lopped off about 53 feet and 44,000 pounds of weight from the structure, the Cyclone and the area around it remained closed, as did the Wonder Wheel and a two-block-long section of the boardwalk.
The closed portions of the park reopened by 3 p.m. on July 4, but the damage to some businesses–many still reeling from Sandy–had already been done. Several small business owners told the Post that their profits lagged by as much as 50 percent behind what they’d expect for the busiest weekend of the summer.
“I lost hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment trying to recover from Hurricane Sandy and now this,” Coney Island business owner Carlo Muraco told CBS. “They waited all year. Why’d they wait all year to decide that this was unsafe?”
While Mayor Bloomberg and Councilman Domenic Recchia Jr., who represents that part of Brooklyn, both called the partial demolition “difficult” but necessary, Coney Island USA founder Dick Zigun and other long-timers in the area questioned the decision.
“AstroTower is designed to sway, always sways,” Zigun tweeted. “[S]omeone didn’t understand that and panicked called 911 and shut Coney down LOL.” Amy Nicholson, a documentary filmmaker who made a movie about the Zipper, another beloved and now-defunct Coney ride, called the demolition a “heist .”
It’s not over. There are conflicting reports as to whether the rest of the AstroTower will eventually be removed, but Robert LiMandri, the commissioner of the Buildings Department, told the Times that several more pieces will go. “Currently it is at a safe, reliable height,” he said. “But we do know that we still need to keep going, because there is no need for it to be this tall.”