Something about Coney Island makes it “the perfect spot to reel in a sucker,” writes Kevin Baker, in a masterful article on Coney Island, Joe Sitt and the city’s redevelopment project in this week’s Village Voice:
Coney Island has always suffered from grandiosity. It is always going to be the next Newport, the next Atlantic City, the next Disneyland or Las Vegas. Like the perfect mark, it has never been able to accept the limits of what it can be, or see the beauty of what it is.
What those who wish to improve Coney Island can never accept is the edginess, the streak of anarchy etched deep in the soul of any great carnival. The whole history of Coney Island can be written as the attempt to impose order and civilization on a place that always manages to elude it.
The whole article, which argues that landlord Joe Sitt is merely one in a long line of showmen and hucksters to exploit Coney Island’s peculiar charms, is well worth the read.