The wildly successful (and in the view of this writer enormously entertaining) HBO series Boardwalk Empire is set in Depression-era Atlantic City. It was during this same period and in the same locale that the game of Monopoly was conceived of.
Now it appears that the people behind the series are being given a monopoly of their own. They have been granted exclusive permission to film at the former Cedar Grove Beach Club, in Staten Island—this despite promises from Mayor Michael Bloomberg that the space would be made available to the public.
Residents of the borough are rightly upset over the mayor’s reneging on a promise. The website of the local TV station NY1 quotes one former Cedar Grove resident as saying:
I think it’s a little hypocritical. They said they’re going to open it up to the public, and obviously they’re not doing that. But private concerns can actually use it, and I think that’s very wrong.
Residents of the 41 shoreline cottages that make up the community were already forced off the land once. That was last September, when the Parks Department, which owns the land, announced it was going to remake the area into a public park. Now it appears those plans are on hold, eclipsed by the decision to allow the HBO crew to film scenes at Cedar Grove Beach.
The arrangement has been confirmed by the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and the Parks Department. How long and when filming will take place remain to be seen.
The production crew has already begun spiffing up one of the cottages. NY1 quotes another former resident of the community as stating:
They’ve added columns and a little portico to it. I know, I was down in the beginning of January and they were fixing glass windows and they’ve taken down a lot of the screens so you could see the windows better.
Even as the plans to film proceed apace, another decision needs to be made—whether to give the area historic designation. The state has been mulling over this possibility for some time. If the state decides to grant this request, the city would force the city to preserve much of the area intact.
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