Coney Island, USA

Photojournalism : Wonder Wheel's 90th birthday party.

The future of Coney Island was looking more than uncertain in September of 2010, as the Wonder Wheel celebrated its 90th birthday with the usual crowd of locals, artists, freaks, and misfits.

The park has been changing hands between landlords and rumors were flying about the total destruction and rebuilding of the attractions and the businesses on the boardwalk. The owner of the old staple "Shoot the Freak" was rallying for support of the press and the community, as the new landlord was demanding that he and 10 other long-time businesses justify their existence lest they be shut down before next summer. There was talk of high-end shopping malls, multi-level parking lots and luxury hotels ― a stark contrast to what was currently one of the few remaining areas of the city where you didn't need more than a few quarters in your pocket to be.

Making my way through the little clusters of banjo players, burlesque queens, trapeze walkers, crusty punks, and old fortune tellers, it was obvious how important it was for Coney Island to resist gentrification and, more importantly, "Stepfordization". These beautiful old-timers would have no place in the cleaner, more consumer-oriented park. These were the people that were just as, if not more important to Coney Island as the games and the rides.
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