Coney Island is always worth a daytrip for new New Yorkers and a must-see that is little off the usual tourist track, and full of history.


This populated pensinsula in the Southern end of Brooklyn where the D, F, N, and Q, trains have their terminus, offers a strange mixture of trashy amusement and bohemian beach feeling in front of a social housing scenery that I have hardly seen anywhere else in the world.

From the late 19th century until world war II, Coney Island was the largest amusement area in the U.S.  Millions were drawn to the parks stuffed with carousels, rollercoasters, and other things considered modern attractions at the time.

After that period, and a big fire in 1944, many tried their luck to revitalize the area–among them developer Fred Trump (the father of the 2016 presidential candidate Donald Trump)–but with little luck. The area had to compete with other, more remote locations that became reachable by car for the increasingly motorized public. The parks noticeably started to decay.

This was also the time, when Mayor John Lindsay and city planner Robert Moses turned the area more into a residential area for a lower social class and the 18 to 24 story buildings were constructed, which still mark the coastal line of Coney Island until today.

Ironically, this downwards transformation sealed the fate of Coney Island’s amusement areas. As many other parts of the city, Coney Island was also plagued by street gangs and poverty increased. The parks had to give up operations and Coney Island turned into a “no go” area for most New Yorkers during the 1970’s. 

Since the 1980’s, Coney Island has come back to the scene. Many people from the former Eastern bloc have populated the area, so that today you can find an interesting mixture of  Russian, Uzbek, Turkish, and other cuisines in the restaurants behind the boardwalk. After hurricane Sandy, also much of the boardwalk and piers has been rebuilt.

We will definitely join this year’s mermaid parade (http://www.coneyisland.com/programs/mermaid-parade), that has been held since 1983 in celebration of the beginnign of the summer season (as well as of the craze of the Coney Islanders).

If you get to New York, make sure you get to Coney Island, walk the boardwalk and grab some sweet stuff to catch some of the original flair.

Luna Lopez


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