Edward J. Riegelmann

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Riegelmann opening the Coney Island boardwalk in 1922. Riegelmann is the man in the center, next to the man holding the cane.

Edward J. "Ned" Riegelmann (c. September 5, 1870 – January 16, 1941) was an American Democratic politician from Brooklyn, Kings County, New York, best remembered for the Riegelmann Boardwalk.

Riegelmann was one of five children born to Frederick and Margret Riegelmann on Manhattan's Lower East Side. The family moved to the Williamsburg ten years later. Riegelemann graduated from the Metropolis Law School, which has since merged with the New York University Law School. He was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1898. He began practicing law with the Charles O. Grim and set out to make a mark in the field of Democratic Politics.[citation needed]

In 1904, Ned Riegelmann was rewarded with leadership of the Democratic State Speakers Bureau in the Presidential Campaign, Elected Sheriff of Kings County from 1915-1917 He was a delegate to Democratic National Convention from New York, 1920 He ran successfully for Brooklyn Borough President serving from 1918–1924; During his tenure as Borough President, Rieglemann won approval for construction of the Brooklyn Municipal Building at Court and Joralemon Streets. He was the Democratic National Committee(alternate),again in 1924 (alternate),and 1940; appointed Justice of New York Supreme Court by FDR, 2nd District, 1925–1940, appointed.[1]


Edward J. Riegelmann died on January 16, 1941, aged 71.

Riegelmann Boardwalk/Coney Island Beach[edit]

Almost a century before the boardwalk opened along the Atlantic Ocean, Coney Island was on its way to becoming the nation’s most popular pleasure ground. In 1824 the Coney Island House was established as a seaside resort, and within a few decades it was attracting a steady stream of visitors, including celebrities. After the Civil War, new railroad lines provided direct public transportation to a rapidly expanding list of attractions: restaurants, hotels, bathing pavilions, shops, amusement rides, race tracks, theatres, and as always, the beach and the ocean. At the turn of the century, amusement parks—Sea Lion Park, Steeplechase Park, Luna Park, and Dreamland—offered rides, concessions and entertainment on a spectacular scale.[citation needed]

Once the BMT subway line reached the area in 1920, the pleasures of Coney Island were just a five-cent ride away from the steaming city. Attendance on a hot summer day could reach as high as a million, causing extreme congestion on the beach. Making matters worse, private concessions (such as beachfront hotels, bath houses, and cabarets) controlled large portions of the beach. As Brooklyn Borough President from 1918 to 1924, Edward Riegelmann (1869–1941) took charge of beautifying Coney Island and ensuring public access to the beach and shore. After the city secured title to property along the beachfront, the $3 million beach improvement and boardwalk construction began in 1921.[citation needed]

The immense engineering project required 1.7 million cubic yards (1,300,000 m3) of sand to add another 2.5 million square feet (160,000 m2) to the beach area. Construction of the boardwalk made use of 120,000 tons of stone, 7,700 cubic yards (5,900 m3) of reinforced concrete, and 3.6 million feet of timber, including long leaf yellow pine for the flooring. From a height of 14 feet (4.3 m) above the beach, the 80-foot-wide (24 m) boardwalk stretched from W. 37th Street to Ocean Parkway and provided easy access to both beach and concessions. "Coney Island's Fifth Avenue" opened with great fanfare on May 15, 1923.

Even during the Great Depression, the promise of fun at Coney Island continued to draw millions of visitors. New York City Parks Commissioner Robert Moses, however, wanted to replace the commercial amusements with better opportunities for "exercise and healthy outdoor recreation." Parks was awarded jurisdiction of the beach and boardwalk in 1938, and Coney Island was given a $3 million facelift. Between 1938-41, Parks shifted and straightened out much of the boardwalk and extended it east to Brighton Beach. The beach was greatly expanded and entirely resurfaced with a 2-foot (0.61 m) layer of fine white sand. The boardwalk was named for Borough President Riegelmann. Since 1983 the boardwalk has hosted the annual Mermaid Parade, which welcomes the summer beach season with a wild procession of sea-people.

In 1993 "The First Symphony of the Sea", a 300-foot-long (91 m) sculpture wall by artist Toshio Sasaki, was installed on the boardwalk outside the Aquarium for Wildlife Conservation. Riegelmann Boardwalk has been reconstructed numerous times since 1923, and many portions are now made of sturdy hardwoods such as Lophira alata, Tabebuia serratifolia, and Dipteryx odorata. Along a distance of 2.7 miles (4.3 km), eastward from West 37th Street to Corbin Place, at the end of Brighton Beach, there are 1.3 million boards and 15.6 million screws and nails (about 12 to a board).[citation needed]

Political offices
Preceded by
Lewis H. Pounds
Borough president of Brooklyn
Succeeded by
Joseph A. Guider


  1. ^ The Political Graveyard, Index to Politicians: Ridg to Riggles, retrieved June 5, 2009]