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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Tilyou Playground

When, at the beginning of the present century, the Muss Development Corporation built the Oceana Condominium and Club on the site of the old Brighton Beach Baths (1907-1994) in the face of some ineffectual opposition, it also funded the creation of a new city park and playground. It was one of those real estate deals where the developer agrees to create a public space in exchange for something the city grants it – a zoning change, an easement, something it needs.

Tilyou Playground is actually two separate pieces of land along Brighton Beach Ave., one an actual playground and therefore of no interest to this blog, the other an actual park, with benches and grass and trees – real trees, not plastic ones, as these exposed root systems prove. (Maybe Muss was worried the city would suspect some sort of vegetation fraud.)

In a fairly small space, the park welcomes both the old…

…and the young.

Just what is a Tilyou, you ask? The Tilyous were among Coney Island's first entrepreneurs. Peter Tilyou founded the Surf House and Surf Theater in the 1860s, and in the 1890s he and his son built the legendary Steeplechase Park, an amusement park whose name resounds to this day despite the fact that it closed in 1964.

Steeplechase Park itself lives on in its one remaining artifact: the famous Parachute Jump. No one jumps from it anymore, but this year it was (to coin a phrase) "re-blung" with cascading multicolored lights.

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