One of New York’s hidden secrets lies beneath the aged patina of the Coney Island Boardwalk and others along the East Coast that were built or replaced during the last quarter of the Twentieth century. They often used the extraordinary hardwoods of the South American rain forests. The narrow tropical boards, burnished and greyed by weather and foot traffic. The woods are versatile in design, being used for flooring, paneling and furniture.
Boardwalk turns silver grey in its exposure to the sun and is made smooth by rain and foot traffic. Micro checks form in intricate patterns on the face of the boards, and can become more pronounced as the board ages over the decades. But their endurance through decades of direct exposure to snow, rain, sun and the salty atmosphere is still remarkable.
For all that the fabled walkway represent to people, their tropical boards signal rain forest loss. The environmental damage, relative to Northern Hemisphere woods, is exponential. The impact on bio-diversity is, of course, well documented. It’s hard to say whether boardwalks are the only sustainable source of rain forest woods, but they’re a rare pleasure in that they prevent the need for using new Ipe.