An afternoon at Coney Island + 10 Facts
Since it was my first summer in NYC, (last summer was technically my first in the US but I was in New Jersey), we decided to check out one of the most iconic tourist destination in New York - Coney Island.
First, let’s have a little history lesson:
Coney Island was originally part of a colonial town called Gravesend. It became a seaside resort in the mid-19th century, and amusement parks were built by the late 19th century. It became a popular leisure destination during the first half of the 20th century but suffered neglect after the World War II. Thankfully, the land was revitalized along with the opening of the minor league baseball stadium, MCU park in 2001 and a number of amusement rides in the 2010s.
In this blog post, along with my personal experience and impressions, I’d like to share ten facts about New York’s top summer destination.
Facts about Coney Island
Coney Island is in fact not an island but a peninsula, which is a piece of land surrounded by water on the majority of its border while being connected to a mainland from which it extends. (Before you say wow, she must've paid attention to her geography class, I will admit that I did in fact, googled the above fact.) Coney Island is both a famous entertainment/leisure destination and a residential neighborhood located in the Lower Bay in the southwestern part of Brooklyn. It was formerly and actual island, separated from greater Brooklyn by Coney Island Creek.
The beaches in Coney Island are not natural, the perimeter has man-made structures specifically designed to maintain its current shape. The sand that should naturally fill up Coney Island is cut off by the jetty (a walkway accessing the centre of an enclosed waterbody) at Breezy Point, Queens.
3. There are three rides at the Coney Island Amusement Park that are protected and considered New York City landmarks. Officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places, these three rides are: The Wonder Wheel, the Cyclone, and the Parachute Jump. I'm not a fan of rides so of those three, I might only consider riding the Wonder Wheel in this lifetime.
4. Speaking of the Wonder Wheel, it was built way back in 1918 and opened in 1920. Standing 150 ft (46 m) tall, and weighing over 200 tons, this steel giant can hold 144 riders and both has stationary and rocking cars that slide along a track. I know for some it looks and sounds appealing but for me, just seeing those rocking cars in the already spinning wheel makes me dizzy enough.
5. Even though it is a popular tourist destination, the sand beach at the west end of Coney Island is private and only accessible to its residents. There is however, a wide public sand beach starting at Sea Gate at West 37th Street, going through the central Coney Island area and Brighton Beach, all the way to the beginning of Manhattan beach, with a distance of approximately 2.5 mi (4.0 km). You can walk the entire length of the beach through the broad Riegelmann Boardwalk. You might as well stop along the way for food and arcades as a number are directly accessible through the boardwalk as well as the aquarium.
6. The New York aquarium, located on the former site of the Dreamland Amusement park opened in 1957 and is now also another featured attraction in Coney Island.
7. You'd be pleased to know that these public beaches are groomed by the city on a regular basis. And since sand no longer naturally deposits on the beach, it is replenished through a beach nourishment projects using dredged sand. Dredging is the process of removing material from one part of the water environment and relocating it to another. Aren't we all learning something in this post? And oh, the public beaches are open to everyone without restriction, free of charge.
8. Coney Island has a Hall of Fame which according to the website www.coneyislandhistory.org" are pioneers and visionaries whose creativity and ingenuity helped shape and define Coney Island over the past century". One of them is Charles Feltman, and you gotta love this guy because he himself invented the hot dog. Feltman, a German immigrant who arrived in New York in 1856 at the age of fifteen, started his career in 1867 with a pie wagon in the sand dunes of Coney Island. Four years later, after leasing a small plot of land, he began to build a business empire consisting of nine restaurants, a roller coaster, a carousel, a ballroom, an outdoor movie theater, a hotel, a beer garden, a bathhouse, a pavilion, a Tyrolean village, two enormous bars, and a maple garden. According to legend, hot dog came to be because of his idea to put sausage on a roll so he could avoid providing silverware and plates to customers. He sold millions of hot dogs but was most famous for his shore dinner, a seafood plate including lobster, fish and oysters.
9. In 1916, one employee of Charles Feltman left his empire to start his own business just a few blocks away on Surf Avenue. With a $300 loan from two friends and his wife's secret recipe, he began his nickel hot dog stand. His business soon surpassed his former employer's restaurant and became a Coney Island icon. His name? You guessed it, Nathan Handwerker of Nathan's Famous and yes, the original restaurant is still there at the corner of Surf and Stillwell. It is now the home of the annual televised Hot Dog Eating Contest.
10. Coney Island is the home of one of the largest art parade in the United States - the Coney Island Mermaid Parade. Held annually at the start of the summer season, this event celebrates the arrival of the summer season (hooray for the end of cold weather!). Last June 16, 2018 was the 36th annual parade.
Good Afternoon, Great Night
We arrived there a little after two o’clock in the afternoon and I think it was kinda a bad idea since it was a very hot and humid summer day. The only great thing about it was the parking fee was slightly lower than if you go at night. However, it is better if you come here by train since parking space is so hard to find and prices are way overpriced especially during peak season. The beach was as expected, packed with locals and tourists. We ate hotdogs, and went to Luna Park, to play some good ol’ amusement park games. Micoh wanted to try the rides but of course, I did not agree. We weren’t even able to ride the Wonder Wheel, maybe we will try next year and I want to ride it at night.
However, I was able to add two firsts to my experiences: Go-Kart, where I drove while screaming the whole time and watched an actual Freak show. Part of the reason for watching the show was to escape the afternoon heat while waiting for the sun to come down.
Indeed, it was a little cooler during the night and we checked out the other amusement rides across Luna Park. There are many things to try and “amusing” things to see which varies from cute to creepy (see below: Annabelle doll and Woody?)
I specifically enjoyed the 4D Zombie ride since I’m a sucker for anything zombie related.
I know we weren’t able to fully experience everything Coney Island has to offer, but that’s what second visits are for right?