Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York

Coney Island, located in southernmost area in Brooklyn, New York, was once an island but became a peninsula when the Coney Island creek was filled in for construction of the Belt Parkway in 1934. It is famous for its beaches that face the Atlantic Ocean. The area was best known as a major resort and was the site of many famous amusement parks such as Steeplechase, Dreamland and Luna Park, which offered rides, concessions and entertainment on a spectacular scale.

The glory days of Coney Island reached its peak in the early 20th century but declined in popularity after World War II, and has since gone through various stages of neglect. In recent years various attempts have been made to revitalize the area, one of which was building a minor league baseball park home to the Brooklyn Cyclones on the former site of Steeplechase Park which closed in 1964.

Even though the amusement parks have diminished over the years, the beautiful wide stretches of beach have not, and if you enlarge the collage above you can see how much they were being enjoyed during the July 4th weekend!

The boardwalk was named for the 1918 - 1924 Brooklyn Borough President Riegelmann, who took charge of beautifying Coney Island and ensuring public access to the beach and shore. It became known as "Coney Island's Fifth Avenue" opened with great fanfare on May 15, 1923.

It has been rebuilt and repaired numerous times over the years and presently the boardwalk is a distance of 2.7 miles, from W. 37th Street to Corbin Place, and links the excitement of Coney's colorful amusements and the sweeping calm of beach and ocean.

The Parachute Jump, originally the "Life Savers Parachute Jump" at the 1939 New York World's Fair, was the first ride of its kind. Patrons were hoisted 190 feet in the air before being allowed to drop using guy-wired parachutes. Although the ride has been closed since 1968, it remains a Coney Island landmark and is sometimes referred to as "Brooklyn's Eiffel Tower"

Portions of the boardwalk were very crowded this past weekend with people enjoying the nice weather.

The beach and ocean is visible from the boardwalk and in the photo above you can see one of the children's playgrounds that are located on the beach....the little palm tree is a sprinkler.

A small crowd gathered on the boardwalk to watch a few couples who were playing music from a radio and dancing the tango!

Crocs was sponsoring an AVP pro beach volleyball tournament on one strecth of the beach; admission was required.

Lola Staars Dreamland Roller Rink is located inside the Historical Landmarked Childs Building at 3052 West 21st St at the boardwalk

The Child's Restaurant building was one a few structures to survive a devastating fire in 1932 that caused $5 million in damage and swept through the Coney Island oceanfront, leaving 1,000 people homeless and destroying bathhouses, rides and homes from West 24th Street down to Childs at West 21st Street. The restaurant was damaged, but it blocked the advance of the flames farther east.

Unfortunately, in many areas adjoining the boardwalk, there are areas that were once thriving amusement venues but are now empty lots waiting for future projects. The Thunderbolt roller coaster was once located here, along with a house beneath the tracks, which was featured in the film Annie Hall.

An interesting article published in a 2005 issue of New York Magazine discussed one developer's plans for a billion dollar makeover of Coney Island, but as the economy has declined it seems the plans for revitalization have been put on hold indefinitely.

Stretching over 1,000 feet from the Coney Island Boardwalk into the Atlantic Ocean, the Steeplechase Pier welcomes visitors and fishermen and women with cool ocean breezes, and fabulous views of both ocean and beaches and amusement rides.

A view of the Parachute Jump from the pier in the photo above.

A sea of colorful beach umbrellas can be seen in this photo taken from the pier. It is reminiscent of days of old when the Coney Island beaches attracted millions of people!

A pier view of The Wonder Wheel, built in 1920, is a 150-foot tall Ferris wheel with both stationary and rocking cars.

A pier view of The Cyclone roller coaster, built in 1927, is one of the nation's oldest wooden coasters still in operation. A favorite of some coaster aficionados, the Cyclone includes an 85-foot, 60 degree drop.

Another panoramic view of the beaches and amusement rides in the background taken from the end of Steeplechase pier.

A view of the end of the pier and some of the pleasure boats in the water that day. In the distance the peninsula of Breezy Point, Queens, NY can be seen,

The Wonder Wheel is a 150-foot tall, has a diameter of 135 feet and holds 144 people at once.It was named an official NYC landmark in 1989.

Some of the Wonder Wheel's cars move and swing along a track! It is terrifying as you feel as if you are about to slip off!

The Polar Bear Club is the oldest winter bathing organization in the United States. They swim in the Atlantic Ocean at Coney Island every Sunday from November through April.

No visit to Coney Island would be complete without buying a hot dog at Nathans Famous on the corner of Stillwell and Surf Avenues ! Click on the collage above to enlarge it to see some views of this famous food stand that has been here since 1916. Nathan’s Famous was founded by a Polish immigrant, Nathan Handwerker. He started his business with a small hot dog stand and sold hot dogs that were manufactured based on a recipe developed by his wife, Ida. Last year Nathan’s sold over 360 million of its World Famous Beef Hot Dogs worldwide!

Ever year on July 4th there is a hot dog eating contest held at Nathan's in Coney Island and in 2009 Joey Chestnut defended his title, and set a world record by consuming 68 hot dogs and buns in twelve minutes! Read the whole story on the NY Daily News.

The Cyclone Roller Coaster debuted on June 26, 1927. In 1991 it was declared a National Historic Landmark. Designed by Vernon Keenan, the Cyclone illustrates the definitive twister type layout envolving many tightly interwoven layers of track. Although the Cyclone's structure is made mostly of steel, it's still considered a wooden coaster because the track rests on layers of wood. The rickety clacking sound it makes adds to the intensity of the ride

If you want to take a virtual ride of the Cyclone Roller Coaster check out this thrilling Youtube video!

My husband and I went to Coney Island to attend an event in that took place under this colorful tent.
Any guess as to what it was? Check my next blog post to see if you guessed correctly!


Unknown said...

What a visual treat Pat!!! I'd love to go there..and I have no idea that there are so many people on the beach! wow...must be packed and cramped...hugs/m

Anonymous said...

That was quite a tour. I love the views of the beach and ocean. What it a wedding? I'll be watching.

Unknown said...

Hi Pat,
Every summer when I was a child, my grandfather took all the cousins to Coney Island for his birthday. I remember the Steeplechase horse ride and getting the "brass ring" on the merry-go-round!

At this year's Nathan's hotdog eating contest, "Eater-X" who came in 4th this year, is a friend of my son from his high school football days!

I love your Brooklyn posts, they bring back so many memories for me.

Is that the Cirque Du Soleil tent?

Tracy said...

WEE-HEE...feels like we're right there with you, Pat! This was such fun. Your photos really capture the spirit of the place. Love the beach views! Happy Days :o) ((HUGS))

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Great tour Pat. I couldn't believe the crowds on the beach.

Unknown said...

These are great photos Pat! I feel like I was actually there!

Look forward to seeing the event...I haven't a clue!

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Pat, I've never been to Coney Island but have always wanted to go. My desire stems from all of the movies I've seen. This was so much fun seeing it through your eyes. And I loved all the color! That one shot of all the people and the umbrellas is fabulous, but so are all the others. That just stuck in my mind because I love beach umbrellas. I just did a post about that for next Monday.

That Child's Restaurant building is gorgeous, and I love the color and design of that parachute jump. What a fun place. And I want to go to Nathan's and have a hot dog! Honestly, the best hot dog I've ever eaten we bought from a street vendor in front of the Metroplitan Museum of Art. Maybe it was because we were in NYC, or maybe it really was that good! LOL!

Loved this. Thanks!


Sheila :-)

RoeH said...

Well...that's way too many people for me on that beach, but the California beaches - especially Huntington Beach, are just the same. But on the flip side, there are so many things that I'd like to see in New York...Coney Island being one of them. I like to see all the old stuff.

Lora @ my blessed life said...

What a fun place to visit! Someday I hope to see it in person. Your pictures were absolutely great, Pat!! I really enjoyed this post.

Junie Moon said...

Coney Island looks like so much fun. I'd love to attend the Mermaid Parade they host each year. And I'm loving the "Under the Boardwalk" music playing along with your post, one of my favorite songs.

Just A Girl said...

Hi Pat,
What a wonderful day to be outdoors enjoying the sunshine, but I think I would stay away from that beach! Is it always that crowded? I don't think our beaches get THAT crowded...LOL! I miss living close enough to the water to where I can be there in minutes. Your such a lucky girl my friend ;).

xoxo Cori

Nola said...

I'm putting that on my bucket list; until then, I'm glad I got a virtual trip!

Lynn said...

When I saw your blog in my reading list I said, "Oh boy! It's a tour!
Thanks! I enjoyed it a bunch!

Edie Marie's Attic said...

Hi Pat!

What a great post! I was going to ask you about Coney Island when I was with you but forgot. I wondered what was still there and now I know - thanks for the tour of such a famous place. I really enjoyed it. the photos are fabulous I love the one of all the people & umbrellas on the beach WOW!

Wes & I love the photo of you and your handsome grandson on your sidebar! So sweet!!

Big hugs, sherry

Tell Vinny Hi from Chris & me!

Kathy said...

Wonderful post and tour of Coney Island Pat. and I couldn't help swaying to the music as I read lol, WOW there were a lot a people on the beach, I loved to see those dancing couples and people generally having a fabulous time, your post oozes summer time and I hope you are enjoying your summer time, hugs Kathy.

supplies overflowing! said...

Hey Pat, I will take a guess- an auction?
uh, circus? flea market?
How many guesses?

Many parts of your post reminded me of Asbury Park, NJ- a hopping place when I was a child, it fell into a bit of a ruined state, and yet a few years ago, developers started to bring it back. People are working hard at it, the hands change over time and again, but parts of Asbury are thriving once again.
The wooden roller coaster reminded me also of the old Palisades Amusement Park, which has been gone longer than I can remember, but it too had a wooden roller coaster, which used to give me thrills and chills!
Ah, summer.

Vee said...

Should've come over earlier today and enjoyed this mini vacation. Those umbrellas affected me the way a garden full of flowers does. And you did two mosaics...very nice ones, too!

Beverly said...

I love this post, Pat. It was wonderful to see so many of the places I have heard about all of my life.

We went to the Nathan's in Fort Lauderdale from the time I was a kid. I still buy Nathan's to serve at home.

Lisa's RetroStyle said...

You had a full day before you even got to the tent! What a great post. Looks like such a fun place and soooo many people!
Hmmm what happened at the tent? I haven't a clue...but I look forward to finding out.

imjacobsmom said...

Pat, What a fun visit to Coney Island. I've heard about it, saw it in the movies, but to actually experience it with you is more like real life. Now I can't wait to see what's in that tent. ~ Robyn

Proud Italian Cook said...

Wow, The beach was packed! Love the song and the tour. I definitely would be in line for a Nathans hotdog!

Sara at Come Away With Me said...

Greetings from Southern California...I stopped over from Judy's blog (My Front Porch) and just love your photo tour of Coney Island, a place I've only seen in movies or magazines. Wow, that is a LOT of people on the beach...and it's all so colorful.

I also noticed your "Award Free Blog" and may put something up like that on my own (with my own picture, of course)..thanks for the inspiration.


Carol Murdock said...

Pat, loved the tour! We have a small Cafe here called Coney Island that opened in the 1940s,
I had my first job there in my
13th summer, working for spending money!

Laura @ the shorehouse. said...

I'm going to guess the circus, but I'm cheating since your next post is up, LOL! :-)

It's such a shame to see Coney Island in recent years...It was such a hotbed "in the day" -- much like Asbury Park in NJ -- that bad combinations of neglect, economy and greedy developers have done a number on. I'm pulling for Coney Island AND Asbury...it would be terrible to lose them.

Jen Laceda | Milk Guides said...

I have never been to Coney Island. Sadly. I've always wanted to go, but every time we are in NYC, we just fail to make our way over!! Maybe next time!