|Coney Island Boardwalk|
Seaside resorts, traveling fairs and carnivals, world's fairs along with the Industrial Revolution (resulting in rides) coupled with an increase of people having money to spend on entertainment gave rise to amusement parks. Coney Island, being near the shore, was a natural location for NYC to have its own. One could say that Coney Island was one of the original staycations, easily accessible by subway from Manhattan yet far enough to feel like you're out of town, literally at the seashore.
1. Coney Island is one of the oldest amusement areas in the world. The name Coney comes from the Spanish "conejo," which means rabbit. Apparently, the peninsula was full of the little bunnies until development limited their numbers. "Coney" was a nickname that stuck.
2. Popular before World War II, Coney Island descended into almost a delicious seediness, where only hardy NY locals would dare to go. During the 1960's and 1970's Nathan's, the famous hot dog stand; the Cyclone, one of the grandfathers of all roller coasters; the Deno's Wonder Wheel and the inactive 1939 World's Fair souvenir, the red Parachute Jump all managed to survive.
3. Meanwhile, an entire community built up around the resort area, complete with residences, schools, churches and supermarkets. Street names like Neptune, Surf and Mermaid pay tribute to the seaside theme, but make no mistake, Coney Island is a real neighborhood and a vital part of NYC.
4. Coney Island limped along until the 1980s revitalization started. It is actually several independently owned parks, the most famous being Deno's, Luna Park and Steeplechase Park. Thanks to local politicians and developers, the area is a hot spot.
|The new Thunderbolt, Coney Island (editorial usage)|
5. Locals, however, are not giving it up to the tourists so easily. NYC can promote it to the out-of-towners all it wants but Coney Island belongs to us, always has and always will. It's even more alive after dark: with everything lit up and the noise of the games spilling out onto Surf Avenue.
6. You can spend an entire day or even weekend in this part of Brooklyn. Visit the NY Aquarium. The amusement parks (Luna Park, Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park) still operate old school: admission is free and you buy tickets (or books of tickets) to ride the attractions. Old and new games are there, but beware: bring lots of cash, they are not as cheap as they used to be! Comprehensive info can be found at Coney Island Fun Guide.
|Wonder Wheel (trademarked, editorial usage)|
7. Cut through the side streets and head to the famous boardwalk, immortalized in many movies, including the building from the film Two Weeks Notice at 21st Street and the Boardwalk.
8. Warning: NYC waters never really warm up, our season is too short, but the Parks Department is makes an effort to keep the beaches clean. Official season is Memorial Day to Labor Day for the life guards. In the winter, dare to dive in with local polar bear clubs, especially on New Year's Day.
9. When you get hungry and thirsty, this is the best place for junk food: custard ice cream, seafood, candy, popcorn and all sorts of interesting drinks along the boardwalk and Surf Avenue. Of course, the most well-known is Nathan's Famous (it tastes better down here). Don't forget to go to Williams Candy store and take home one of the famous candy apples.
|MCU Park (editorial usage)|
10. Take in future sports stars at Municipal Credit Union (MCU) Park and cheer on the Brooklyn Cyclones, one of our local minor league baseball teams. With the mascot running around and all the fun things in between innings, a minor league game feels like a small town. The park is smaller, the players are accessible and the crowd is fun. It is certainly cheaper.
|Williams Candy Store, next to Nathan's, Surf Ave|
Getting there: the old BMT lines, now known as the MTA F, Q, N, D trains will take you to the area. The main buses would be the B36 and B68. By car, it gets a little complicated and parking between June and September is ridiculous, but for a small fortune, you can park in privately owned lots without running out to the meter every 15 minutes.
So, come on down to our very own seashore resort area and take a few hours to enjoy yourself.