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When developer Joe Sitt razed Astroland and put up a flea market, it seemed like Coney Island might be losing some of its signature grittiness. Sitt's company Thor Equities promoted the market with subway ads featuring aggressively non-threatening line-drawings of happy yuppies; their website promised a "hip new approach to the old school open air market." The implication: This was going to be the Brooklyn Flea South.
Well, here's the good news: The place is still gritty. So gritty, in fact, that the Festival by the Sea actually takes place in a field full of grit—the rubble where Astroland used to be. The flea was supposed to launch in mid-May but had to be delayed "because of a tent mishap," and while it eventually did open over Memorial Day, it still feels half-empty. We found a smattering of vendors selling hats, $7 "DG" sunglasses, tupperware, and Coney Island t-shirts. There were two food trucks, one selling pupusas and one selling ceviche. Instead of live music, there was a stage with some speakers on it. Granted, we showed up late in the day, so maybe we didn't see things at their finest. Still, let's just say that shopping is not exactly Coney Island's main draw. Which is probably the way things should be.
· Coney Festival Not Quite a Dreamland, New Coaster Eyed? [Curbed]
· Coney Festival By the Sea [Official Site]