By Elizabeth Greene
“From the park you hear the happy sound of a carousel,
You can almost taste the hot dogs and French fries they sell
Under the boardwalk, down by the sea
On a blanket with my baby, is where I’ll be…”
Children screaming and laughing, parents tirelessly dragged from one stand to another, Nathan’s famous hot dogs fill the stomachs of all, and the timeless jingle of the old carousel can be heard from far and wide….it’s summer at Coney Island. The legendary resort destination off the south of Brooklyn has been around for over a hundred years, but sadly, this will be the last summer one can enjoy the childhood innocence and joy that Coney Island offers.
Coney Island opened as a resort after the Civil War. With transportation options growing at the turn of the century, it became a perfect place for New Yorkers to escape to from their hot tenements and enjoy the fresh air and breezes at the beach. In 1915, when the Sea Beach Line was added to the subway system and four years later the opening of the new West End Terminal, Coney Island reached its peak years, with tourists coming to experience Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, the island’s landmark carousel and more.
But shortly after World War II, with modern conveniences making it less necessary to leave the house for summer fun, Coney Island began to face problems that would continue to present day. Arguments persisted over what to do with failing parks and rides, how to make use of available land space and what to preserve and what to tear apart. But despite the challenges, Coney Island has maintained its identity as an all-American amusement park, beach and summer resort venue.
Today, Coney Island brings in fans galore with its minor league baseball team, the Brooklyn Cyclones, at the colorful KeySpan Park throughout the warm months. The famous rollercoaster, The Cyclone (one of the oldest in the country), the Wonder Wheel ferris wheel and the Parachute Jump are all NYC landmarks and are worth a trip in themselves. The New York Aquarium resides on the celebrated Riegelmann boardwalk, the subject of the well-known tune, and a trip to Coney Island wouldn’t be complete without a stroll down its path, hot dog and souvenir in hand. With rezoning issues and numerous changes being made, Coney Island will unfortunately close at the end of the summer.
So before it’s too late, why not make the short trip down the Sea Beach Line and have a day filled with childhood pleasures that any hard working, fun loving gal could benefit from! Eat that snow cone with joy, buy a tacky t-shirt, and relish in some wholesome unadulterated summer delights!