When people think of Coney Island, one word comes to mind: boardwalk. The boardwalk is the heart and lifeblood of Coney Island, serving as a gateway to beach entertainment and business opportunities for visitors and residents, respectively. Here’s a 1920s American Lumberman magazine article about the birth of this celebrated structure. And don’t forget, because original boardwalk wood was used to make part of Ruby’s ceiling, Ruby’s is the last place on Coney Island where you can still walk under the boardwalk! Buy your very own piece of history at our bar or online HERE!
Coney Island To Have 80-Foot Boardwalk
June 17, 1922
New York, June 12 — In the boardwalk under construction at Coney Island, wood will play an important part. The new boardwalk, which is part of the beach improvement plan to constitute one of the most extensive, novel and interesting pieces of work undertaken by the city in a generation, will extend from the foot of Ocean Parkway to the entrance of Sea Gate at West 37th Street. In addition to the boardwalk and its appurtenances, there will be groynes, jetties and bulkheads for the protection and stabilization of the shore, as well as a considerable enlargement of the beach itself.
The quantities of materials to be used in carrying out the pending contract include 4,000,000 board feet of timber; 75,000 linear feet of timber piling; 760,000 square feet of wood flooring; 1,700,000 cubic yards of sand filling; 40,000 linear feet of reinforced concrete girders; 4,000 reinforced concrete piles; and 110,000 tons of rock for jetties. Various other items entering into the work consist of hand railing, lamp standards, pipe and other accessories. The city now owns the beach at Coney Island, the tract covering an area of about 300 acres.
The first step in carrying out the contract will be the construction of the timber groynes and the 16 rock jetties, to be spaced in general about 600 feet apart. The position of each jetty will be such as to afford the greatest possible resistance to wave attack and give at the same time the maximum protection to the existing strand and the additional beach proposed to be made. The inner or shore ends of these projecting structures are called groynes. Each is 300 feet long and is made of timber piles and a double row of lapped sheet piling with wales or stringers bolted to and through the piles. All the timber to be used will be creosoted for the purpose of resisting the weather and possible attacks of the teredo and other marine insects which in clear salt water rapidly destroy unprotected timber. The outer or seaward end of each of these protecting structures, which have been referred to as jetties, but which in reality serve as breakwaters, is composed of a mass of heavy stones, forming a mound 200 feet in length. Its upper surface will be 2 feet above high tide level and will have a width of 10 feet. These structures are designed to have slopes on either side with an angle of 45 degrees, so that at the extreme outer end where the water has an average depth of 14 feet below water, the base will be 50 feet wide.
To prevent scour around the shore ends of the groynes which might possibly occur in periods of heavy storms or exceptionally high tides, a bulkhead paralleling the interior line of the improvement will be provided where this seems desirable. The piles, sheet piling, waling pieces etc., are all to be treated with creosote oil for preservative purposes, and provision is made for tight joints by the use of splines in the sheet piling. In all cases where timber groynes and bulkheads are used, the penetration of the piles into the existing sea bottom must amount to 17 feet and the sheet piling must be driven 10 feet. These are minimum depths and are required to prevent possible damage from excessive scour. After these structures are completed, the contractor is to deposit nearly 2,000,000 cubic yards of sand fill on the shore, and on the floor of the ocean between and beyond the exterior ends of the rock jetties in such a manner as to produce a new or extended beach, approximating in slope the present beach and ocean bed. The effect of this is to advance the high and low water marks seaward about 180 feet, providing in this manner a bathing area in front of the boardwalk. This operation constitutes the novel feature of the project, the novelty consisting of depositing sand by hydraulic dredges on an unenclosed shore.
Walks Will Extend Nearly Two Miles
To the lay mind, the most attractive and popular part of the entire beach improvement is the construction of the boardwalk, stated Philip P. Farley, consulting engineer of the Borough of Brooklyn. The structure will be strong, durable and suitable to the needs of the immense crowds that yearly throng New York’s most convenient bathing beach. The walks will extend for the entire length of the city-owned beach, or from the foot of Ocean Parkway to Sea Gate, a distance of 9,500 feet, or almost two miles. It will be 80 feet wide, or 20 feet wider than the widest part of the famous Atlantic City boardwalk. It is designed to carry safely a live load of 125 pounds a square foot, equal to the greatest load that can be placed upon it by pedestrian traffic. The floor surface will be 14 feet above normal high tides and this surface will be reached from adjacent streets by double ramps at each intersection. The height was fixed on the basis of giving a clear space under the boardwalk both longitudinally and laterally. The walk is made up of a series of pile bents spaced about 20 feet apart, each bent being made up of eight reinforced concrete piles supporting a reinforced concrete girder. The piles are 15 inches square in cross section and 28 feet long, and they are spaced 10 feet apart. Each pile will have a penetration in the sand beach of 17 feet and will later have an additional protection of 4 feet of sand when the pumping is finished.
All the reinforced concrete piles to be used in this structure will be precast. The girders which surmount the piles will be cast in molds in place, being supported temporarily during the setting process on studs or timber bents provided by the contractor.
The superstructure of the boardwalk is to be of southern pine timber. The floor beams are 4×14 inches in size and spaced 2 feet apart. They will run longitudinally, or in the direction of the boardwalk, and are creosoted like the timber used for the groynes and bulkheads, but not to the same extent, as the only purpose of this is to preserve it against the weather and not against insects. The flooring of the boardwalk will be of dressed lumber and the joints between boards will be only one-eighth of an inch. This will add to the durability of the structure by preventing the splintering of individual boards by the feet of millions of pedestrians. The boards are laid in a diagonal direction in order to facilitate ease in walking. Provision has been made for two longitudinal strips 6 foot wide of closely laid plank, which are to be used for rolling chairs in case these are found to be popular and practicable. Along the ocean front on the shore side, provision has been made for a galvanized pipe rail guard fence, and wherever necessary, a similar fence will be placed on the north side of the walk. Steps lead down to the beach at intervals, and lamp standards for lighting the walk are placed along the outer side of the walk and at the foot of all streets.