Went back down to Asbury Park; was wondering how the renovation of the Casino was going.
I found a good deal of activity going on. The old Howard Johnson's restaurant, with its space-age architecture, had been cleaned out, its former tenant replaced by a trendy casual restaurant. The goombahs who had sat outside keeping watch on the boardwalk were replaced by upper-middle class folks who would have shunned the old HoJos in disgust. A glass-blowing workshop and an art gallery were mixed in with the usual hot dog and pizza stands -- Asbury Park has to have the only boardwalk in the world that's home to resident artists who don't do caricatures. All of the businesses seemed to be getting good foot traffic, and people were dining at tables laid out cafe-style on the boardwalk.
I half expected to find the entire Casino site reduced to rubble, but there it was: the walkway and the carousel portion of the building, still standing.
In a way, I'm relieved that the scariest part of has been torn down - that the ghosts of the wilderness that grew inside the ruins of the part over the beach are now gone. But it looks totally weird that there is nothing there ... and that a temporary wall has been built there, kind of like those metal sheets magicians use when they divide the woman in the box.The walkway was open to foot traffic as it was last summer, and a few people were walking through. I still got the willies from it, but I decided to check it out.
The plywood construction walls were gone, exposing the ornate, century-old plaster walls, complete with framed windows. The back side of drywall, held up by new metal studs, blocked off the entryways leading to the arcade that no longer stands. And I looked up to see what has to be a new corrugated metal roof, held up by the old metal rafters. I wonder if they'll put up new plaster to replace what had been there (and falling down).
As I walked through, I noticed that a door in the construction barrier on the western side of the building was open and exposed the carousel room. I'd never seen the inside of that, except in pictures of the old merry-go-round that had long ago been sold off to some amusement park in the Midwest ("ride on an authentic Jersey Shore carousel!"). Work was being done there, and I was happy to see that the metalwork faces in the arched windows have been preserved.
So who knows where they'll be in the process the next time I'm down there. They're certainly making progress. Maybe (hope springs eternal) by this time this year, we'll be enjoying the new building.
I just wonder if it will still give me the willies.