Coney Island

This vintage postcard from 1903 shows Surf Avenue on Coney Island which is part of New York State.

Coney Island is famous as a vacation recreation area for those living in and near New York City, NY. Originally it was a separate outer barrier island off Brooklyn, NY. But it has been connected to the mainland by land fill and is now a peninsula.

As early as the 1830’s there were tourist Hotels, restaurants, and shops on Coney Island. It is easily accessible from the city, so became a favorite spot to escape the city crowds. The original Coney Island Hotel was constructed in 1829. Soon after, many other hotels opened on the Island.

After the Civil War, the Coney Island & Brooklyn Railroad streetcar line provided access from New York City as did the Iron Steamboat company in the 1880s. When the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company provided electric cars and also connected Brooklyn to Manhattan via the Brooklyn Bridge at the beginning of the 20th century, Coney Island went from a upper class resort spot to a recreation area used by all New Yorkers on any given day, especially during hot summer days.

Coney Island is famous today for its amusement parks. The first carousel was built on Coney Island in 1876 at Vandeveer’s bath-house on West 6th Street and Surf Avenue (shown here). The carousel was comprised of various brightly painted, hand-carved animals and horses standing two abreast. There was music provided by a flutist and drummer with a tent-top giving protection from the weather. It cost five cents to ride the Coney Island carousel in 1876.

Coney Island is also famous for its hot dogs which were introduced in 1916 at Nathan’s Famous original hot dog stand.

This postcard shows what Surf Avenue looked like in 1903. Since then, various amusement parks have come and gone on Coney Island. From 1962 to 2008, Astroland was a popular amusement park. In 2009 it was replace by Dreamland Park and then Luna Park in 2010. Other visitor attractions are: Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, 12th Street Amusements, Kiddie Park, and the Eldorado Arcade with indoor bumper cars.

Ind 1903, we see the “Rocky Road to Dublin” ride next to the “Ben Hur Race” ride, two famous and popular rides. The “Ben Hur Chariot Race” ride existed from 1908 to 1927 and was a two-track racing roller coaster. The “Rocky Road to Dublin” was an electric third rail roller coaster in use from 1906 to 1923. The builder of both was William Mangels.

The first new roller coasters to be built at Coney Island in eighty years were opened On April 20, 2011 in an effort to revitalize the area.

Coney Island will always be part of American history and culture. Through wars, depression, drought, bad luck, we still go to Coney Island to get a hot dog and a roller coaster ride! It’s the American way!