NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Part of the iconic Astrotower at Coney Island will have to be demolished, after concerns about the tower’s structural stability prompted a shutdown of several amusements on the Brooklyn peninsula.
The NYPD escorted two massive cranes to Luna Park on Wednesday night, and partial demolition was to begin soon afterward. Crews were to work throughout the night in hopes of reopening the park for the Fourth of July on Thursday.
“We’ve come to the conclusion that the most expedient way and the fastest way to get the park up and running and be safe for all New Yorkers is to remove part of the tower immediately,” Department of Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri said.
Luna Park officials said they still hope to save what is left of the tower after the demolition.
The Coney Island Cyclone roller coaster, the Wonder Wheel and some other famed New York amusements have been shut down since Tuesday afternoon.
As CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, many were crestfallen at the prospect of watching the structure be dismantled.
“I rode it when I was a little boy. My father took my older brothers and me on it,” said Michael Schwartz. “And it represents a lot of memories.”
He said the demolition was like tearing apart a piece of history.
“It breaks my heart in a way,” he said. “I know change has to come eventually. Nothing stands forever.”
Along with the Parachute Jump – which has been out of service as a ride since 1964 – the Astrotower is considered a symbol of the Coney Island amusements.
“As soon as you enter Coney Island, you see the tower stand up tall, and then you see the Parachute Jump, and you know you’re in Coney Island right away,” said resident Eric Kowalsky. “Even though it’s not a ride, it still stands as a symbol of what used to be; last remnants of Astroland Park.”
But others said it was time for the tower to go.
“They should’ve taken it down a long time ago,” said former Coney Island resident Joseph Baldwin. “Put something else up there. Put up something that means something, not just a ride. “
The FDNY, the Office of Emergency Management and engineers from the Buildings Department spent Wednesday inspecting the Astrotower. But even before demolition was discussed, some seemed to think the nearly 50-year-old structure was soon just to be a Coney Island memory.
“So what we wanted to do is to decide and figure out what it is that it can tolerate for sway or movement and then base it on data,” LiMandri said.