Hundreds of residents of Long Beach, Long Island attend a 'goodbye' ceremony for the town's historic wooden boardwalk, which was badly damaged in Hurricane Sandy, on January 5, 2013 in Long Beach, New York.
The demolition of the city of Long Beach's beloved boardwalk is getting under way.
A large crowd was on hand for the start of the removal of what has been the city's most recognizable landmark for nearly 100 years. It stood firm until late October, when superstorm Sandy lifted it like a roller coaster, necessitating its removal.
The demolition will allow the city to rebuild a new, stronger boardwalk, City Councilman Scott Mandel has said.
"It's the heart and soul of Long Beach," Mandel said earlier this week. "It's an old friend -- it really is saying goodbye to family."
To commemorate the beginning of the demolition process, the city held a public ceremony Saturday at 11 a.m. at Grand Boulevard. The 2.2-mile boardwalk, which collapsed in several spots, is unsafe and no longer viable, but residents came to say goodbye to what city officials described as an "iconic landmark."
Long Beach last month selected a Farmingdale firm to handle the removal for $1.435 million. The work will likely take a month, officials said.
Meanwhile, the city is preparing a request for proposals from firms for the design of a new boardwalk. The request will be issued early this year, Mandel said.
Mandel said the city hopes the new boardwalk will be in place by the summer. City officials have said it could cost $25 million.
The city will look to rebuild the boardwalk in a way that better protects it from natural disasters, Mandel said. Specifics have not been determined, city officials said.
"We're going to rebuild stronger, smarter and safer, and it's imperative that we have a boardwalk as soon as possible," said Gordon Tepper, a city spokesman, earlier this week.
The boardwalk was built in 1914 by William H. Reynolds, who brought elephants to the construction site as a publicity stunt. The boardwalk was an integral part of his plan to develop Long Beach into "The Riviera of the East."
Long Beach will not be without its boardwalk for long, Mandel said.
"Everyone would come to Long Beach to go to the boardwalk," he said. "It's the focal point."