Coney Island
   HOME

TheInfoList



OR:

Coney Island is a
peninsula A peninsula (; ) is a landform that extends from a mainland and is surrounded by water on most, but not all of its borders. A peninsula is also sometimes defined as a piece of land bordered by water on three of its sides. Peninsulas exist on all ...
r neighborhood and entertainment area in the southwestern section of the New York City borough of
Brooklyn Brooklyn () is a Boroughs of New York City, borough of New York City, coextensive with Kings County, in the U.S. state of New York (state), New York. Kings County is the most populous Administrative divisions of New York (state)#County, county i ...
. The neighborhood is bounded by Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach to its east,
Lower New York Bay Lower New York Bay is a section of New York Bay south of the Narrows (the strait between Staten Island and Brooklyn). The eastern end of the Bay is marked by two spits of land, Sandy Hook, New Jersey, and Rockaway, Queens. The waterway betw ...
to the south and west, and
Gravesend Gravesend is a town in northwest Kent, England, situated 21 miles (35 km) east-southeast of Charing Cross (central London) on the Bank (geography), south bank of the River Thames and opposite Tilbury in Essex. Located in the diocese of Ro ...
to the north and includes the subsection of Sea Gate on its west. More broadly, Coney Island or sometimes for clarity the Coney Island peninsula consists of Coney Island proper, Brighton Beach, and Manhattan Beach. This was formerly the westernmost of the
Outer Barrier The Outer Barrier, also known as the Long Island and New York City barrier islands, refers to the string of barrier islands that divide the lagoons south of Long Island, New York from the Atlantic Ocean. These islands include Long Beach Barrier I ...
islands on the southern shore of
Long Island Long Island is a densely populated island in the southeastern region of the U.S. state of New York (state), New York, part of the New York metropolitan area. With over 8 million people, Long Island is the most populous island in the United Sta ...
, but in the early 20th century it became a peninsula, connected to the rest of Long Island by land fill. The origin of Coney Island's name is disputed, but the area was originally part of the colonial town of Gravesend. By the mid-19th century it had become a
seaside resort A seaside resort is a resort town, town, village, or hotel that serves as a Resort, vacation resort and is located on a coast. Sometimes the concept includes an aspect of official accreditation based on the satisfaction of certain requirements, suc ...
, and by the late 19th century,
amusement park An amusement park is a park that features various attractions, such as rides and games, as well as other events for entertainment purposes. A theme park is a type of amusement park that bases its structures and attractions around a central ...
s had also been built at the location. The attractions reached a historical peak during the first half of the 20th century. However, they declined in popularity after
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the World War II by country, vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great power ...
and, following years of neglect, several structures were torn down. Various redevelopment projects were proposed for Coney Island in the 1970s through the 2000s, though most of these were not carried out. The area was revitalized with the opening of MCU Park in 2001 and several amusement rides starting in the 2010s. Coney Island had around 32,000 residents as of the
2010 United States Census The United States census of 2010 was the twenty-third United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in N ...
. The neighborhood is ethnically diverse, and the neighborhood's poverty rate of 27% is slightly higher than that of the city as a whole. Coney Island is part of Brooklyn Community District 13, and its primary ZIP Code is 11224. It is patrolled by the 60th Precinct of the
New York City Police Department The New York City Police Department (NYPD), officially the City of New York Police Department, established on May 23, 1845, is the primary municipal law enforcement agency within the City of New York, the largest and one of the oldest i ...
. Fire services are provided by the
New York City Fire Department The New York City Fire Department, officially the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY), is an American department of the government of New York City The government of New York City, headquartered at New York City Hall in Lower Manha ...
's Engine 245/Ladder 161/Battalion 43 and Engine 318/Ladder 166. Politically, Coney Island is represented by the
New York City Council The New York City Council is the lawmaking body of New York City. It has 51 members from 51 council districts throughout the five Borough (New York City), boroughs. The council serves as a check against the Mayor of New York City, mayor in a may ...
's 47th District. The area is well served by the
New York City Subway The New York City Subway is a rapid transit system owned by the government of New York City and leased to the New York City Transit Authority, an affiliate agency of the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). Opened on October 2 ...
and local bus routes, and contains several public elementary and middle schools.


Geography and climate

The '' Encyclopedia of New York City'' considers the area west of Ocean Parkway (including Sea Gate and Nortons Point Light) to be part of the Coney Island neighborhood. The neighborhood is situated on the western portion of the Coney Island
peninsula A peninsula (; ) is a landform that extends from a mainland and is surrounded by water on most, but not all of its borders. A peninsula is also sometimes defined as a piece of land bordered by water on three of its sides. Peninsulas exist on all ...
, located on the western end of
Long Island Long Island is a densely populated island in the southeastern region of the U.S. state of New York (state), New York, part of the New York metropolitan area. With over 8 million people, Long Island is the most populous island in the United Sta ...
lying to the west of the
Outer Barrier The Outer Barrier, also known as the Long Island and New York City barrier islands, refers to the string of barrier islands that divide the lagoons south of Long Island, New York from the Atlantic Ocean. These islands include Long Beach Barrier I ...
islands along Long Island's southern shore. The peninsula is about long and wide. It extends into
Lower New York Bay Lower New York Bay is a section of New York Bay south of the Narrows (the strait between Staten Island and Brooklyn). The eastern end of the Bay is marked by two spits of land, Sandy Hook, New Jersey, and Rockaway, Queens. The waterway betw ...
with
Sheepshead Bay Sheepshead, Sheephead, or Sheep's Head, may refer to: Fish * '' Archosargus probatocephalus'', a medium-sized saltwater fish of the Atlantic Ocean * Freshwater drum The freshwater drum, ''Aplodinotus grunniens'', is a fish endemic to North ...
to its northeast, Gravesend Bay and Coney Island Creek to its northwest, and the main part of Brooklyn to its north. At its highest it is above sea level. Coney Island was formerly an actual island, separated from greater Brooklyn by Coney Island Creek, and was the westernmost of the Outer Barrier islands. A large section of the creek was filled in the 1920s and 1930s, turning the island into a peninsula. The perimeter of Coney Island features manmade structures designed to maintain its current shape. The beaches are currently not a natural feature; the sand that is naturally supposed to replenish Coney Island is cut off by the
jetty A jetty is a structure that projects from land out into water. A jetty may serve as a breakwater (structure), breakwater, as a walkway, or both; or, in pairs, as a means of constricting a channel. The term derives from the French language, F ...
at
Breezy Point, Queens Breezy Point is a neighborhood in the New York City borough (New York City), borough of Queens, located on the western end of the Rockaway, Queens, Rockaway peninsula, between Rockaway Inlet and Jamaica Bay to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to th ...
. Sand has been redeposited on the beaches via
beach nourishment Beach nourishment (also referred to as beach renourishment, beach replenishment, or sand replenishment) describes a process by which sediment, usually sand, lost through longshore drift or erosion is replaced from other sources. A wider beach can ...
since the construction of
Riegelmann Boardwalk The Riegelmann Boardwalk (also known as the Coney Island Boardwalk) is a boardwalk along the southern shore of the Coney Island peninsula in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, facing the Atlantic Ocean. Opened in 1923, the boardwalk runs bet ...
in 1922–1923, and is held in place by around two dozen
groyne A groyne (in the U.S. groin) is a rigid hydraulic structure built perpendicularly from an ocean shore (in coastal engineering Coastal engineering is a branch of civil engineering concerned with the specific demands posed by constructing at or ...
s. A large sand-replenishing project along Coney Island and Brighton Beach took place in the 1990s. Sheepshead Bay at the peninsula's northeast corner is, for the most part, enclosed in bulkheads. Two major parks, Kaiser Park and Coney Island Creek Park, are located on the northwest side of the peninsula along Coney Island Creek. Coney Island has a
humid subtropical climate A humid subtropical climate is a zone of climate characterized by hot and humid summers, and cool to mild winters. These climates normally lie on the southeast side of all continents (except Antarctica), generally between latitudes 25° and 40° ...
(''Cfa'') and the
hardiness zone A hardiness zone is a geographic area defined as having a certain average annual minimum temperature, a factor relevant to the survival of many plants. In some systems other statistics are included in the calculations. The original and most wide ...
is 7b.


Name

The original Native American inhabitants of the region, the
Lenape The Lenape (, , or Lenape , del, Lënapeyok) also called the Leni Lenape, Lenni Lenape and Delaware people, are an indigenous peoples of the Northeastern Woodlands, who live in the United States and Canada. Their historical territory inclu ...
, called this area ''Narrioch'', possibly meaning "''land without shadows'' or "''always in light'' in reference to its sunlit south-facing beaches. A second possible meaning is "''point'' or "''corner of land''. The "island" was originally several smaller historical islands, each being given a name by Dutch settlers, with the westernmost sand spit or point being given named ''Conyne Eylandt'' in early-17th-century Dutch maps, starting with the 1639
Manatus Map The Manatus Map is a 1639 city map of New Amsterdam and other New Netherland settlements surrounding New York Harbor, with pictorial map, pictorial elements, and bearing the title '' Manhattoe, Manatus on the North River (Hudson River), North Rive ...
. There is no clear historical consensus on how the island got the name "Coney Island", in regular use in the first half of the 19th century with the advent of regular ferry service to the island, but several theories have been put forward. One possible etymology is from a Native American tribe, the Konoh or Konoi (the "Bear Band"), who once inhabited the island. A second theory suggests that it was distortion of the name of
Henry Hudson Henry Hudson ( 1565 – disappeared 23 June 1611) was an English List of maritime explorers, sea explorer and navigator during the early 17th century, best known for his explorations of present-day Canada and parts of the northeastern Uni ...
's second mate on the
Halve Maen ''Halve Maen'' (; en, Half Moon) was a Dutch East India Company ''flyboat, vlieboot'' (similar to a carrack) that sailed into what is now New York Harbor in September 1609. She was commissioned by the VOC Chamber of Amsterdam in the Dutch Rep ...
, John Colman, who was slain by natives on the 1609 expedition. A third posits that late 18th century Irish captain Peter O'Connor named it after Coney Island in County Sligo, Ireland. Yet other theories suggest a Dutch etymology: one theory holds that the name had come from Conyn, the surname of a family of Dutch settlers who lived there, and another suggests that it came from the Dutch word for
rabbit Rabbits, also known as bunnies or bunny rabbits, are small mammals in the family (biology), family Leporidae (which also contains the hares) of the order (biology), order Lagomorpha (which also contains the pikas). ''Oryctolagus cuniculus'' i ...
, "konijn", derived from a purported large population of wild rabbits on the island". There is little evidence for each origin theory, and there are conflicts between the pieces of evidence that do exist. The most popular idea is the translation of the Dutch word for "rabbit" into the English word '' coney'', but that has its detractors and counter explanations. In 1816 politician and U.S. Founding Father Egbert Benson presented a treatise on New York place names and said it was "''Conyn's Island''", after the Dutch surname, and noted "''there are already symptoms of the beginning of a tradition that it once abounded in Rabbits''". Other historians claim that rabbits were introduced to the island only after it was settled. The 19th century also saw the heavily Irish New York
Tammany Hall Tammany Hall, also known as the Society of St. Tammany, the Sons of St. Tammany, or the Columbian Order, was a New York City political organization founded in 1786 and incorporated on May 12, 1789 as the Tammany Society. It became the main loc ...
political machine controlling development of the island, and they may have gotten the name from the island in County Sligo rather than any tale of a rabbit population.


History


Early settlement

Giovanni da Verrazzano Giovanni da Verrazzano ( , , often misspelled Verrazano in English; 1485–1528) was an Italian (Republic of Florence, Florentine) Exploration, explorer of North America, in the service of King Francis I of France. He is renowned as the firs ...
was the first European explorer to sight the island of Narrioch during his expeditions to the area in 1527 and 1529. He was subsequently followed by Henry Hudson. Anthony Janszoon van Salee was the first New Netherlands settler to acquire land adjacent to Coney Island, in 1639. The Native American population in the area dwindled as the Dutch settlement grew and the entire southern tier of present-day Brooklyn, from
Gowanus Creek The Gowanus Canal (originally known as the Gowanus Creek) is a canal Canals or artificial waterways are waterways or engineered channels built for drainage management (e.g. flood control and irrigation) or for conveyancing wate ...
to Coney Island to Gerritsen Creek, was "purchased" in 1645 from the Native Americans in exchange for goods. The goods were not recorded in the deed, but later accounts mention a gun, a blanket, and a kettle. In 1644, a colonist named Guysbert Op Dyck was given a
land patent A land patent is a form of letters patent assigning official ownership of a particular wikt:tract, tract of land that has gone through various legally-prescribed processes like surveying and documentation, followed by the letter's signing, sealing ...
for 88 acres of land in the town of
Gravesend Gravesend is a town in northwest Kent, England, situated 21 miles (35 km) east-southeast of Charing Cross (central London) on the Bank (geography), south bank of the River Thames and opposite Tilbury in Essex. Located in the diocese of Ro ...
, on the southwestern shore of Brooklyn. The land patent included Conyne Island, an island just off the southwestern shore of the town of Gravesend, as well as Conyne Hook, a peninsula just east of the island. Both became part of Gravesend when its first town charter was granted a year later, in 1645. East of Conyne Hook was the largest section of island called Gysbert's, Guysbert's, or Guisbert's Island (also called Johnson Island), containing most of the arable land and extending east through today's Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach. This was officially the first official real estate transaction for the island. Op Dyck never occupied his land, and in 1661 he sold it off to Dick De Wolf. The land's new owner banned Gravesend residents from using Guisbert's Island and built a salt-works on the land, provoking outrage among Gravesend livestock herders. New Amsterdam was transferred to the English in 1664, and four years later, the English Governor created a new charter for Gravesend that excluded Coney Island. Subsequently, Guisbert's Island was divided into plots meted out to several dozen settlers. However, in 1685, the island became part of Gravesend again as a result of a new charter with the Native Americans. At the time of European settlement, the land that makes up the present-day Coney Island was divided across several separate islands. All of these islands were part of the
outer barrier The Outer Barrier, also known as the Long Island and New York City barrier islands, refers to the string of barrier islands that divide the lagoons south of Long Island, New York from the Atlantic Ocean. These islands include Long Beach Barrier I ...
on the southern shore of Long Island, and their land areas and boundaries changed frequently. Only the westernmost island was called Coney Island; it currently makes up part of Sea Gate. At the time, it was a 1.25-mile shifting sandspit with a detached island at its western end extending into Lower New York Bay. In a 1679–1680 journal,
Jasper Danckaerts Jasper Danckaerts (7 May 1639, Vlissingen – 1702/1704, Middelburg, Zeeland, Middelburg) was the founder of a colony of Labadists along the Bohemia River in what is now the US state of Maryland. He is known for his journal, kept while traveling ...
and Peter Sluyter noted that "Conijnen Eylandt" was fully separated from the rest of Brooklyn. The explorers observed that "Nobody lives upon it, but it is used in winter for keeping cattle, horses, oxen, hogs and others." By the early 18th century, the town of Gravesend was periodically granting seven-year-long leases to freeholders, who would then have the exclusive use of Coney Hook and Coney Island. In 1734, a road to Coney Hook was laid out. Thomas Stillwell, a prominent Gravesend resident who was the freeholder for Coney Island and Coney Hook at the time, proposed to build a ditch through Coney Hook so it would be easier for his cattle to graze. He convinced several friends in the nearby town of
Jamaica Jamaica (; ) is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea. Spanning in area, it is the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles and the Caribbean (after Cuba and Hispaniola). Jamaica lies about south of Cuba, and west of Hisp ...
to help him in this effort, telling them that the creation of such a ditch would allow them to ship goods from
Jamaica Bay Jamaica Bay is an estuary on the southern portion of the western tip of Long Island, in the U.S. state of New York (state), New York. The estuary is partially man-made, and partially natural. The bay connects with Lower New York Bay to the west, ...
to
New York Harbor New York Harbor is at the mouth of the Hudson River where it empties into New York Bay near the East River tidal estuary, and then into the Atlantic Ocean on the east coast of the United States. It is one of the largest natural harbors ...
without having to venture out into the ocean. In 1750, the "Jamaica Ditch" was dug through Coney Hook from Brown's Creek in the west to Hubbard's Creek in the east. The creation of the canal turned Coney Hook into a detached island called Pine Island, so named due to the woods on it. Each island was separated by an
inlet An inlet is a (usually long and narrow) indentation of a shoreline, such as a small arm, bay, sound In physics, sound is a vibration that propagates as an acoustic wave, through a transmission medium such as a gas, liquid or solid. In ...
that could only be crossed at low tide. By the end of the 18th century, the ongoing shifting of sand along the barrier islands had closed up the inlets to the point that residents began filling them in and joining them as one island. Development of Coney Island was slow until the 19th century due to land disputes, the
American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (April 19, 1775 – September 3, 1783), also known as the Revolutionary War or American War of Independence, was a major war of the American Revolution. Widely considered as the war that secured the independence of t ...
, and the
War of 1812 The War of 1812 (18 June 1812 – 17 February 1815) was fought by the United States, United States of America and its Indigenous peoples of the Americas, indigenous allies against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, United Kingdom ...
. Coney Island was so remote that
Herman Melville Herman Melville (Name change, born Melvill; August 1, 1819 – September 28, 1891) was an American people, American novelist, short story writer, and poet of the American Renaissance (literature), American Renaissance period. Among his bes ...
wrote ''
Moby-Dick ''Moby-Dick; or, The Whale'' is an 1851 novel by American writer Herman Melville. The book is the sailor Ishmael (Moby-Dick), Ishmael's narrative of the obsessive quest of Captain Ahab, Ahab, captain of the whaler, whaling ship ''Pequod (Moby- ...
'' on the island in 1849, and
Henry Clay Henry Clay Sr. (April 12, 1777June 29, 1852) was an American attorney and statesman who represented Kentucky in both the United States Senate, U.S. Senate and United States House of Representatives, House of Representatives. He was the seven ...
and
Daniel Webster Daniel Webster (January 18, 1782 – October 24, 1852) was an American lawyer and statesman who represented New Hampshire and Massachusetts in the U.S. Congress and served as the U.S. Secretary of State under Presidents William Henry Harrison, ...
discussed the
Missouri Compromise The Missouri Compromise was a federal legislation of the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located i ...
at the island the next year.


Resort development

In 1824, the Gravesend and Coney Island Road and Bridge Company built the first bridge across Jamaica Ditch (by now known as Coney Island Creek), connecting the island with the mainland. The company also built a shell road across the island to the beaches. In 1829, the company also built the first hotel on the island: the Coney Island House, near present-day Sea Gate. Due to Coney Island's proximity to
Manhattan Manhattan (), known regionally as the City, is the most densely populated and geographically smallest of the five Boroughs of New York City, boroughs of New York City. The borough is also coextensive with New York County, one of the List of co ...
and other boroughs, and its simultaneous relative distance from the city of Brooklyn to provide the illusion of a proper vacation, it began attracting vacationers in the 1830s and 1840s, assisted by carriage roads and steamship service that reduced travel time from a formerly half-day journey to two hours. Most of the vacationers were wealthy and went by carriage. Inventor
Samuel Colt Samuel Colt (; July 19, 1814 – January 10, 1862) was an American inventor, industrialist, and businessman who established Colt's Patent Fire-Arms Manufacturing Company (now Colt's Manufacturing Company) and made the mass production of r ...
built an observation tower on the peninsula in 1845, but he abandoned the project soon after. In 1847, the middle class started going to Coney Island upon the introduction of a ferry line to Norton's Point—named during the mid-1870s after hotel owner Michael Norton—at the western portion of the peninsula. Gang activity started as well, with one 1870s writer noting that going to Coney Island could result in losing money and even lives. The Brooklyn, Bath and Coney Island Railroad became the first railroad to reach Coney Island when it opened in 1864, and it was completed in 1867. Over the next 13 years, four more railroads were built specifically to transport visitors to Coney Island; this was part of a larger national trend toward trolley park development. In 1868, William A. Engeman built a resort in the area. The resort was given the name " Brighton Beach" in 1878 by Henry C. Murphy and a group of businessmen, who chose the name as an allusion to the English resort city of
Brighton Brighton () is a seaside resort and one of the two main areas of the City of Brighton and Hove in the county of East Sussex, England. It is located south of London. Archaeological evidence of settlement in the area dates back to the Bronze Ag ...
. With the help of Gravesend's surveyor William Stillwell, Engeman acquired all 39 lots for the relatively low cost of $20,000. This hotel, with rooms for up to 5,000 people nightly and meals for up to 20,000 people daily, was close to the then-rundown western Coney Island, so it was mostly the upper middle class that went to this hotel. The , double-decker Brighton Beach Bathing Pavilion was also built nearby and opened in 1878, with the capacity for 1,200 bathers. Hotel Brighton, also known as the Brighton Beach Hotel, was situated on the beach at what is now the foot of
Coney Island Avenue Coney Island Avenue is a road in the New York City Borough (New York City), borough of Brooklyn that runs north-south for a distance of roughly five miles, almost parallel to Ocean Parkway (Brooklyn), Ocean Parkway and Ocean Avenue (Brooklyn), Oce ...
. The Brooklyn, Flatbush, and Coney Island Railway, the predecessor to the
New York City Subway The New York City Subway is a rapid transit system owned by the government of New York City and leased to the New York City Transit Authority, an affiliate agency of the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). Opened on October 2 ...
's present-day Brighton Line, opened on July 2, 1878, and provided access to the hotel. Simultaneously, wealthy banker
Austin Corbin Austin is the capital city of the U.S. state of Texas, as well as the county seat, seat and largest city of Travis County, Texas, Travis County, with portions extending into Hays County, Texas, Hays and Williamson County, Texas, Williamson co ...
was developing adjacent Manhattan Beach after being interested in the area during a trip to the beach to heal his sick son. Corbin, who worked on
Wall Street Wall Street is an eight-block-long street in the Financial District, Manhattan, Financial District of Lower Manhattan in New York City. It runs between Broadway (Manhattan), Broadway in the west to South Street (Manhattan), South Street and ...
and had many
railroad Rail transport (also known as train transport) is a means of transport that transfers passengers and goods on wheeled vehicles running on rails, which are incorporated in Track (rail transport), tracks. In contrast to road transport, where the ...
investments, built the New York and Manhattan Beach Railway for his two luxury shoreline hotels. These hotels were used by the wealthy upper class, who would not go to Brighton Beach because of its proximity to Coney Island. The 150-room Manhattan Beach Hotel—which was designed by J. Pickering Putnam and contained restaurants, ballrooms, and shops—was opened for business in July 1877 at a ceremony presided over by President
Ulysses S. Grant Ulysses S. Grant (born Hiram Ulysses Grant ; April 27, 1822July 23, 1885) was an American military officer and politician who served as the 18th president of the United States from 1869 to 1877. As Commanding General of the United States ...
. The similarly prodigal Oriental Hotel, which hosted rooms for wealthy families staying for extended periods, was opened in August 1880. Andrew R. Culver, president of the Prospect Park and Coney Island Railroad, had built the Culver Line steam railway to West Brighton in 1875, before Corbin and Engeman had even built their railroads. For 35 cents, one could ride the Prospect Park & Coney Island Railroad to the Culver Depot terminal at Surf Avenue. Across the street from the terminal, the Iron Tower (also known as the Centennial Observatory), bought from the 1876 Philadelphia Exposition, provided patrons with a bird's-eye view of the coast. The nearby "Camera Obscura" similarly used mirrors and lens to provide a panoramic view of the area. Coney Island became a major resort destination after the Civil War as excursion
railroads Rail transport (also known as train transport) is a means of transport Transport (in British English), or transportation (in American English), is the intentional Motion, movement of humans, animals, and cargo, goods from one location t ...
and the Coney Island & Brooklyn Railroad
streetcar line A tram (called a streetcar or trolley in North America) is a rail vehicle that travels on tramway tracks on public urban streets; some include segments on segregated Right-of-way (transportation), right-of-way. The tramlines or networks op ...
reached the area in the 1860s and 1870s, followed by the Iron Steamboat Company ferry to Manhattan in 1881. The 150-suite Cable Hotel was built nearby in 1875. Next to it, on a piece of land leased by James Voorhies, maitre d' Paul Bauer built the western peninsula's largest hotel, which opened in 1876. By the turn of the century, Victorian hotels, private bathhouses, and
vaudeville Vaudeville (; ) is a theatre, theatrical genre of variety show, variety entertainment born in France at the end of the 19th century. A vaudeville was originally a comedy without psychological or moral intentions, based on a comical situation: ...
theaters were a common sight on Coney island. The three resort areas—Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach and West Brighton—competed with each other for clientele. By the early 1900s, West Brighton had gradually become the most popular destination, and as such, became associated with the lively amusement area of Coney Island. In the 1890s, Norton's Point on the western side of Coney Island was developed into Sea Gate, a gated summer community that catered mainly to the wealthy. A private yacht carried visitors directly from the Battery at the southern tip of Manhattan Island. Notable tenants within the community included the Atlantic Yacht Club, which built a colonial style house along the waterfront.


Amusement park era

Between about 1880 and
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the World War II by country, vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great power ...
, Coney Island was the largest amusement area in the United States, attracting several million visitors per year. Its development as an amusement area was concurrent with the erection of urban amusement parks elsewhere in the United States, which changed amusement from a passive to an active concept. Of these amusement areas, Coney Island was the largest. At its height, it contained three competing major amusement parks—
Luna Park Luna Park is a name shared by dozens of currently operating and defunct amusement park An amusement park is a park that features various attractions, such as rides and games, as well as other events for entertainment purposes. A theme ...
, Dreamland, and Steeplechase Park—as well as many independent amusements. The area was also the center of new technological events and innovations including electric lights, roller coasters, and baby incubators. By the first decade of the 20th century, Coney Island was seen as a top getaway and "a symbol of Americans' increasing pride".


19th century

By the late 1870s, Coney Island's hotels had drawn people from many different social classes, and attractions were being built. When the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company electrified the steam railroads and connected Brooklyn to
Manhattan Manhattan (), known regionally as the City, is the most densely populated and geographically smallest of the five Boroughs of New York City, boroughs of New York City. The borough is also coextensive with New York County, one of the List of co ...
via the
Brooklyn Bridge The Brooklyn Bridge is a hybrid cable-stayed/suspension bridge in New York City, spanning the East River between the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Opened on May 24, 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was the first fixed crossing of the East River ...
at the beginning of the 20th century, Coney Island turned rapidly from a resort to an accessible location for day-trippers seeking to escape the summer heat in New York City's
tenements A tenement is a type of building shared by multiple dwellings, typically with flats or apartments on each floor and with shared entrance stairway access. They are common on the British Isles, particularly in Scotland. In the medieval Old Town, E ...
. Charles I. D. Looff, a Danish
woodcarver Wood carving is a form of woodworking by means of a cutting tool (knife) in one hand or a chisel by two hands or with one hand on a chisel and one hand on a mallet, resulting in a wooden figure or figurine, or in the sculpture, sculptural orn ...
, built the first carousel and amusement ride at Coney Island in 1876, at Lucy Vandeveer's bath-house complex at West 6th Street and Surf Avenue. Looff personally hand-carved the designs into the carousel. Looff subsequently commissioned another carousel at Feltman's Ocean Pavilion in 1880. Another early attraction was the Seaside Aquarium, which operated from 1877 to 1887 and included aquatic exhibits, aviaries, zoo attractions, and various sideshows. The earliest rides, including Looff's first carousel and the Seaside Aquarium, were located at the Centennial Observatory's site. The first sideshows and fireworks displays came to Coney Island in 1883, and combined with constant musical performances, brought increased excitement to the area. The very first
roller coaster A roller coaster, or rollercoaster, is a type of list of amusement rides, amusement ride that employs a form of elevated Rail tracks, railroad track designed with tight turns, steep Grade (slope), slopes, and sometimes Roller coaster inversion, ...
at Coney Island was the Switchback Railway, a gravity coaster installed by LaMarcus Adna Thompson at West 10th Street in 1884. Nearby was the Elephantine Colossus, a seven-story building (including a
brothel A brothel, bordello, ranch, or whorehouse is a place where people engage in Human sexual activity, sexual activity with prostitutes. However, for legal or cultural reasons, establishments often describe themselves as massage parlors, bars, st ...
) in the shape of an elephant, which opened the following year. Until its demolition in 1896, the elephant was the first sight to greet immigrants arriving in New York, who would see it before they saw the
Statue of Liberty The Statue of Liberty (''Liberty Enlightening the World''; French: ''La Liberté éclairant le monde'') is a List of colossal sculpture in situ, colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor in New York City, in the U ...
. Next to be developed were horse-racing tracks, and by 1890, Coney Island had three tracks:
Sheepshead Bay Race Track Sheepshead Bay Race Track was an American thoroughbred horse race, Thoroughbred horse racing facility built on the site of the Coney Island Jockey Club at Sheepshead Bay, New York (state), New York. Early history The racetrack was built by a gro ...
, Brighton Beach Race Course, and
Gravesend Race Track Gravesend Race Track at Gravesend, Brooklyn, Gravesend in Brooklyn, New York was a Thoroughbred horse race, Thoroughbred horse racing facility that opened in 1886 and closed in 1910. The track was built by the Brooklyn Jockey Club with the backing ...
. Julian Ralph described Coney Island in 1896 as "the first made-to-order resort in America", with many businesses having "leaped from nothing into full fledged perfection". However, crime and corruption in Coney Island were prevalent. The main leader of this corruption was John Y. McKane, who ran prizefighting rings behind the elephant until he was arrested and sentenced in 1894. The development of amusement rides in Coney Island intensified in the 1890s with the opening of amusement parks. The first such park was Sea Lion Park, which operated from 1895 to 1902 and was the first amusement park to charge entry fees. Sea Lion Park's opening spurred the construction of George C. Tilyou's Steeplechase Park, which opened in 1897. The Coney Island "Funny Face" logo, which is still extant, dates to the early days of Steeplechase Park.


Early 20th century

The first decade of the 20th century saw two more large amusement parks.
Luna Park Luna Park is a name shared by dozens of currently operating and defunct amusement park An amusement park is a park that features various attractions, such as rides and games, as well as other events for entertainment purposes. A theme ...
opened in 1903 on the site of Sea Lion Park, which had closed the previous year. The park contained a variety of attractions and exotic landscaping, lit by electricity at night; its flagship ride was
A Trip to the Moon ''A Trip to the Moon'' (french: Le Voyage dans la Lune) is a 1902 French adventure film, adventure short film directed by Georges Méliès. Inspired by a wide variety of sources, including Jules Verne's 1865 novel ''From the Earth to the Moon' ...
, an attraction based on
Jules Verne Jules Gabriel Verne (;'' Longman Pronunciation Dictionary''. ; 8 February 1828 – 24 March 1905) was a French novelist, poet, and playwright. His collaboration with the publisher Pierre-Jules Hetzel led to the creation of the '' Voyages ex ...
's novel ''
From the Earth to the Moon ''From the Earth to the Moon: A Direct Route in 97 Hours, 20 Minutes'' (french: De la Terre à la Lune, trajet direct en 97 heures 20 minutes) is an 1865 novel by Jules Verne. It tells the story of the Baltimore Gun Club, a post-American Civil W ...
''. The following year saw the opening of Dreamland, which reproduced many attractions at Luna Park, but at a grander scale, with a large central tower and lagoon, a sunken plaza, and one million electric lights. Additionally, the City of New York made efforts to condemn all buildings and piers built south of Surf Avenue in an effort to reclaim the beach and create a boardwalk, though the local amusement community opposed the move. Eventually, the city government and the community reached an agreement mandating that the beach did not begin until south of Surf Avenue and that the territory would be marked by a city-owned boardwalk. In return, the city would demolish any structures built upon public streets to reclaim beach access. The original resorts lost patronage after horse racing in New York state was outlawed in 1909, but the amusement areas still saw significant patronage. In 1915, the Sea Beach Line was upgraded to a subway line, followed by the other former excursion roads, and the opening of the Stillwell Avenue station in 1919 ushered in Coney Island's busiest era. On the busiest summer days, over a million people would travel to Coney Island. This created tensions between longtime New York City residents and more recent immigrants who liked to patronize Coney Island. One of the entrepreneurs who took advantage of the increased visitor counts was Nathan Handwerker, who in 1916 started selling hot dogs at Coney Island for a nickel each, and eventually expanded his enterprise into the Nathan's Famous hot dog chain. Coney Island's development as an amusement area continued through the end of World War II. The opening of the Wonder Wheel in 1920; the
Riegelmann Boardwalk The Riegelmann Boardwalk (also known as the Coney Island Boardwalk) is a boardwalk along the southern shore of the Coney Island peninsula in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, facing the Atlantic Ocean. Opened in 1923, the boardwalk runs bet ...
in 1923; the Shore Theater in 1925; several roller coasters in the 1920s including the
Tornado A tornado is a violently rotating column of air that is in contact with both the surface of the Earth and a cumulonimbus cloud or, in rare cases, the base of a cumulus cloud. It is often referred to as a twister, whirlwind or cyclone, althou ...
,
Thunderbolt A thunderbolt or lightning bolt is a symbolic representation of lightning Lightning is a naturally occurring electrostatic discharge during which two electric charge, electrically charged regions, both in the atmosphere or with one o ...
, and
Coney Island Cyclone The Cyclone, also the Coney Island Cyclone, is a wooden roller coaster at Luna Park (Coney Island, 2010), Luna Park in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York City. Designed by Vernon Keenan (coaster designer), Vernon Keenan, it opened to the public ...
; and the
Parachute Jump The Parachute Jump is a defunct amusement ride and a landmark in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, along the Riegelmann Boardwalk at Coney Island. Situated in Steeplechase Plaza near the B&B Carousell, the structure consists of a , open- ...
in 1941 contributed to the area's quality as an amusement destination. In particular, the Riegelmann Boardwalk enabled the crowds to be dispersed away from Surf Avenue, the main west–east avenue in the area. Despite staff shortages during World War II, Coney Island retained its popularity and was frequented by
military personnel Military personnel are members of the state's armed forces. Their roles, pay, and obligations differ according to their military branch (army, navy, marines, air force, space force, and coast guard), Military rank, rank (Officer (armed forces), of ...
. The era was also marked by frequent fires, and those at the beginning of the 20th century were particularly destructive. A 1907 fire at Steeplechase Park resulted in the park having to be completely rebuilt. Dreamland burned down in 1911 and was never rebuilt. One of the largest conflagrations at Coney Island, which occurred in 1932, left at least a thousand people homeless. The early 20th century additionally saw the infilling of a portion of the Coney Island Creek, thereby connecting Coney Island to the rest of Brooklyn. In the previous decades, there had been plans to dredge and straighten the creek as a
ship canal A ship canal is a canal especially intended to accommodate ships used on the oceans, seas, or lakes to which it is connected. Definition Ship canals can be distinguished from barge canals, which are intended to carry barges and other vessel ...
, which were later abandoned. By 1924, local landowners and the city had filled a portion of the creek. A major section of the creek was further filled in to allow construction of the
Belt Parkway The Belt Parkway is the name given to a series of connected limited-access highways that form a belt-like circle around the Borough (New York City), New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. The Belt Parkway comprises three of the four parkw ...
in the 1930s, and the western and eastern ends of the island became peninsulas. More fill was added in 1962 during the construction of the
Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge The Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge ( ) is a suspension bridge connecting the Boroughs of New York City, New York City boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn. It spans the Narrows, a body of water linking the relatively enclosed New York Harbor wit ...
.


Residential development and decline


Robert Moses era

In 1937, New York City parks commissioner
Robert Moses Robert Moses (December 18, 1888 – July 29, 1981) was an American urban planner and public official who worked in the New York metropolitan area during the early to mid 20th century. Despite never being elected to any office, Moses is regard ...
published a report about the possible redevelopment of Coney Island, which would have entailed the addition of parking lots and reconstruction of part of the boardwalk. The city purchased a strip of land along the shoreline, which would allow the boardwalk to be moved inland. At this point, Coney Island was so crowded on summer weekends that, according to Moses, a coffin would provide more space per person. Though ride construction was delayed due to material shortages caused by the onset of
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the World War II by country, vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great power ...
, two new rides were constructed in 1946 at the end of the war. In August 1944,
Luna Park Luna Park is a name shared by dozens of currently operating and defunct amusement park An amusement park is a park that features various attractions, such as rides and games, as well as other events for entertainment purposes. A theme ...
was destroyed by a fire. Two years later, it was closed permanently and sold to a company who wanted to tear down the park's remnants and build
Quonset hut A Quonset hut is a lightweight prefabricated structure of corrugated galvanized steel having a semi cylindrical cross-section. The design was developed in the United States, based on the Nissen hut introduced by the British during World War ...
s for military veterans and their families. Moses asked the city to transfer Luna Park's land along the Coney Island waterfront to the Parks Department, a request that was granted in 1949. Moses then had the land rezoned for residential use, with plans to demolish "about a third" of attractions along Surf Avenue, one block north of the beach, and replace these with housing. Moses moved the boardwalk back from the beach several yards, demolishing many structures, including the city's municipal bath house, as well as several blocks of amusements. He claimed that fewer amusement-seekers were going to Coney Island every year, because they preferred places where they could bathe outdoors, such as
Jones Beach State Park Jones Beach State Park (colloquially "Jones Beach") is a state park in the U.S. state of New York (state), New York. It is located in southern Nassau County, New York, Nassau County on Jones Beach Island, a barrier island linked to Long Island by ...
on Long Island, rather than the "mechanical gadget" attractions of Coney Island. Moses also announced that the Steeplechase Pier would be closed for a year so it could be renovated. In 1953, Moses proposed that most of the peninsula be rezoned for various uses, claiming that it would be an "upgrade" over the various business and unrestricted zones that existed at the time. Steeplechase Park would be allowed to remain open, but much of the shorefront amusements and concessions would be replaced by residential developments. After many complaints from the public and from concession operators, the Estimate Board reinstated the area between West 22nd and West Eighth Streets as an amusement-only zone, with the zone extending inland from the shoreline. Moses's subsequent proposal to extend the Coney Island boardwalk east to Manhattan Beach was denied in 1955. A proposal to make the Quonset hut development into a permanent housing structure was also rejected. A new building for the
New York Aquarium The New York Aquarium is the oldest continually operating Public aquarium, aquarium in the United States, located on the Riegelmann Boardwalk in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York City. It was founded at Castle Garden in Battery Park, Manhattan in ...
was approved for construction in the neighborhood in 1953. Construction started on the aquarium in 1954. The development of the new New York Aquarium was expected to revitalize Coney Island. By 1955, the area still included four children's amusement areas, five roller coasters, several flat and dark rides, and various other attractions such as the Wonder Wheel. The New York Aquarium's new site opened in June 1957. At this point, there were still several dozen rides on Coney Island.


Fred Trump era

During the summers of 1964 and 1965, there was a large decrease in the number of visitors to Coney Island because of the 1964/1965 World's Fair at
Flushing Meadows–Corona Park Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, often referred to as Flushing Meadows Park, or simply Flushing Meadows, is a public park in the northern part of Queens, New York City. It is bounded by Interstate 678 (New York), I-678 (Van Wyck Expressway) on t ...
in Queens. Crime increases, insufficient parking facilities, bad weather, and the post-World War II automotive boom were also cited as contributing factors in the visitor decrease. During the summer of 1964, concessionaires saw their lowest profits in a quarter-century. Ride operators reported that they had 30% to 90% fewer visitors in 1964 compared to the previous year. A small amusement park called Astroland was announced for the boardwalk in 1962, to open the following year. Steeplechase Park, the last remaining large amusement park in Coney Island, closed permanently after the 1964 season. The surrounding blocks were filled with amusement rides and concessions that were closed or about to close. The rides at Steeplechase Park were auctioned off, and the property was sold to developer Fred Trump, who in 1965 announced that he wanted to build luxury apartments on the old Steeplechase property. At the time, residential developments on Coney Island in general were being built at a rapid rate. The peninsula, which had 34,000 residents in 1961, was expected to have more than double that number by the end of 1964. Many of the new residents moved into middle-income co-operative housing developments such as Trump Village, Warbasse Houses, and Luna Park Apartments; these replaced what ''The New York Times'' described as "a rundown sprawl of rickety houses". Developers were spending millions of dollars on new housing developments, and by 1966, the peninsula housed almost 100,000 people. During 1966, developers tried to revitalize the Coney Island boardwalk as an amusement area. Trump destroyed Steeplechase Park's Pavilion of Fun during a highly publicized ceremony that September. In its stead, Trump proposed building a enclosed dome with recreational facilities and a convention center, a plan supported by Brooklyn borough president
Abe Stark Abe Stark (September 28, 1894 – July 2, 1972) was an American businessman and politician. Born on the Lower East Side in New York City, he became a tailor and owned a clothing store at 1514 Pitkin Avenue in the Brownsville, Brooklyn, Brownsvill ...
. The next month, the city announced its plans to acquire the of the former Steeplechase Park, a move that many residents supported but that Trump considered to be "wasteful". In January 1968, New York City parks commissioner August Heckscher II proposed that the New York state government build an "open-space" state park on the Steeplechase site, and that May, the
New York City Board of Estimate The New York City Board of Estimate was a governmental body in New York City responsible for numerous areas of municipal policy and decisions, including the city budget, land-use, contracts, franchises, and water rates. Under the amendments effec ...
voted in favor of funding to buy the land from Trump. Condemnation of the site started in 1969. The city ultimately purchased the proposed park's site for $4 million, with a stipulation blocking Trump from developing the site as apartments. Trump filed a series of court cases related to the proposed residential rezoning, and ultimately won a $1.3 million judgment. The Steeplechase Park site laid empty for several years. Trump started subleasing the property to Norman Kaufman, who ran a small collection of fairground amusements called "Steeplechase Park" on part of the site. The city also leased the boardwalk and parking lot sites at extremely low rates, which resulted in a $1 million loss of revenue over the following seven years. Since the city wanted to build the state park on the site of Kaufman's Steeplechase Park, it attempted to evict him by refusing to grant a lease extension.


Late-1970s attempts at restoration

The 1970s brought along further renewal plans, such as proposals to construct public housing, though the community was beset by social issues such as high crime and a drug epidemic. By 1975, the city was considering demolishing the
Coney Island Cyclone The Cyclone, also the Coney Island Cyclone, is a wooden roller coaster at Luna Park (Coney Island, 2010), Luna Park in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York City. Designed by Vernon Keenan (coaster designer), Vernon Keenan, it opened to the public ...
in favor of an extension of the adjacent New York Aquarium. The proposed demolition was controversial, and after a refurbishment by Astroland, the Cyclone reopened for the summer 1975 season. The abandoned Parachute Jump was left in situ, and the New York City Board of Estimate planned to tear down the structure. In the meanwhile, Coney Island was still affected by a perception of crime and deterioration of old rides, but by the mid-1970s, middle-class families started returning to Coney Island following the implementation of a unified admission ticket to Coney Island's amusement areas. The city continued to pursue litigation over the site occupied by Norman Kaufman, but for over a decade, was unsuccessful. It had no plan for the proposed state park, and in 1975 the
United States Department of Housing and Urban Development The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is one of the United States federal executive departments, executive departments of the Federal government of the United States, U.S. federal government. It administers federal ...
nearly withdrew a proposed grant of $2 million to fund the proposed park. The city ultimately accepted the grant, though different city agencies still disagreed over whether to return the funds. Kaufman continued to operate the site until the end of summer 1980. The following June, the city paid Kaufman a million dollars for the rides, effectively evicting him, even though the amusements were estimated to be worth much less. In 1979, the state announced that it would be conducting a report on the feasibility of legalizing gambling in New York State. Mayor
Ed Koch Edward Irving Koch ( ; December 12, 1924February 1, 2013) was an American politician, lawyer, political commentator, film critic, and television personality. He served in the United States House of Representatives The United States Hou ...
proposed that the state open casinos in New York City to revitalize the area's economy. Residents and politicians supported the idea of building casinos at Coney Island, which they felt would alleviate its poverty, crime, and property vacancy rates. However, there was substantial controversy over the plans to place a gambling site in Coney Island. The state's interest in legalizing gambling had subsided by 1981, and the New York state legislature failed to take action on such proposal. In an effort to reduce crime, the city also began demolishing abandoned bungalows on Coney Island. By 1982, the area was filled with vacant lots, though several residential developments were being planned for Coney Island. Having finally acquired Kaufman's rides, the New York City government began advertising for developers to redevelop the former amusement park area that November. The Mermaid-Neptune Development Corporation constructed three residential developments at the neighborhood's western edge, with a combined total of 430 units. These developments were completed through the mid-1980s. Even so, the area still suffered from drug-related killings and other crimes, especially west of West 20th Street. Former amusement structures such as the Parachute Jump lay unused, and prostitutes roamed around the neighborhood at night. Through the 1980s, prostitution and drug use in Coney Island increased, as did the area's murder and felony crime rate. By the late 1980s, deadly shootings were common, particularly in the low-income housing developments inside Coney Island. Commercial activity also decreased, and by 1990, storefronts on Mermaid Avenue had decreased by 90%, from over 400 stores before the urban renewal to 39 stores afterward.


Revival


Bullard deal, Sportsplex, and KeySpan Park

In the mid-1980s, restaurant mogul Horace Bullard proposed rebuilding Steeplechase Park. On the site bounded by West 15th and 19th Streets between Surf Avenue and the boardwalk, Bullard wanted to build a $55 million amusement park based on the originals. The city agreed, and the project was approved in 1985. Bullard planned to open the park by mid-1986 to coincide with the
Statue of Liberty The Statue of Liberty (''Liberty Enlightening the World''; French: ''La Liberté éclairant le monde'') is a List of colossal sculpture in situ, colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor in New York City, in the U ...
's centennial. However, the project was delayed while the New York City Planning Commission compiled an environmental impact report. By early 1987, the cost of the amusement park nearly doubled, to $100 million. Concurrently, in December 1986, the New York State Urban Development Corporation formally proposed a 17,000-seat minor-league baseball stadium north of the boardwalk between West 19th and West 22nd Streets as well as 15,000-seat indoor arena north of the Abe Stark Rink. Negotiations were ongoing with the
Mets The New York Mets are an American professional baseball team based in the Boroughs of New York City, New York City borough of Queens. The Mets compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member of the National League (NL) National League East, ...
and
Yankees The New York Yankees are an American professional baseball team based in the Boroughs of New York City, New York City borough of the Bronx. The Yankees compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the American League (AL) Amer ...
to ensure their support for the minor-league stadium. State senator Thomas Bartosiewicz attempted to block Bullard's plan, as he was part of a foundation that had promised another developer, Sportsplex, the right to build an amateur sports arena on the site. Construction was held up for another four years, and by 1989, Bullard and the city were ready to sign a contract that would allow the developer to construct a 60-ride amusement park on a waterfront strip, which would be completed by 2002. Other proposals for the area included a $7.9 million restoration of the boardwalk, as well as a new high-school and college sports stadium. Some of Coney Island's iconic rides were designated as official city landmarks during the late 1980s. In 1988, the Cyclone roller coaster was made a New York City designated landmark. This was followed by the Parachute Jump and the Wonder Wheel in 1989. The neighborhood's high crime rate had reversed slightly by the 1990s. However, Coney Island's relative isolation from the rest of New York City, along with its ethnic diversity, deprived the area of significant political power, and to a greater extent money. After
Rudy Giuliani Rudolph William Louis Giuliani (, ; born May 28, 1944) is an American politician and lawyer who served as the 107th Mayor of New York City from 1994 to 2001. He previously served as the United States Associate Attorney General from 1981 to 198 ...
took office as New York City mayor of New York in 1994, he negated the Bullard deal by approving the construction of a minor-league baseball stadium on the site allotted for Steeplechase Park. Giuliani had wanted to build Sportsplex in order to improve sports facilities in the area, and to create a professional baseball team in Brooklyn. By the late 1990s, some $67 million had been secured for the development of Sportsplex. In 1997, developer Bruce Ratner proposed constructing a $100 million entertainment complex between West 9th and West 15th Streets, with a "virtual-reality amusement park" as well as a movie theater multiplex. Concurrently, a four-phase, 873-unit housing development in Coney Island was completed in 1996. In 1998, Giuliani canceled Sportsplex and the entertainment complex, and instead unveiled another plan where only the parking lot would be built. The Sports Foundation had prepared another proposal that would allow a scaled-down Sportsplex to be built next to the minor-league baseball stadium. The minor league team was called the Brooklyn Cyclones, though naming rights to the stadium were sold to Keyspan Energy. Bullard, now no longer rebuilding Steeplechase Park, had wanted to restore the Thunderbolt as part of a scaled-down amusement park, but it was demolished instead. In 2000, the city approved the $31 million project to construct Keyspan Park using the funds from the canceled Sportsplex, and the minor-league baseball stadium opened the following year. Other major projects at the time included the reconstruction of Coney Island's sewers and the refurbishment of the Stillwell Avenue subway station, the latter of which was completed in 2005.


Thor Equities ownership and rezoning proposals

In 2003, Mayor
Michael Bloomberg Michael Rubens Bloomberg (born February 14, 1942) is an American businessman, politician, philanthropist, and author. He is the majority owner, co-founder and CEO of Bloomberg L.P. He was Mayor of New York City from 2002 to 2013, and was a ca ...
took an interest in revitalizing Coney Island as a possible site for the New York City bid of the
2012 Summer Olympics The 2012 Summer Olympics (officially the Games of the XXX Olympiad and also known as London 2012) was an international multi-sport event held from 27 July to 12 August 2012 in London, England, United Kingdom. The first event, the ...
. A plan was developed by the Astella Development Corporation. When the city lost the Olympic bid, the plans were passed to the Coney Island Development Corporation (CIDC), which made modified plans. Shortly before the CIDC's plans were to be publicly released, a development company named Thor Equities purchased all of Bullard's western property for $13 million, later selling the property to Taconic Investment Partners for over $90 million. Taconic now had , on which it planned to build 2,000 apartment units. Thor then went about using much of its $77 million profit to purchase property on Stillwell Avenue for well over market value, and offered to buy out every piece of property inside the traditional amusement area. In September 2005, Thor's founder, Joe Sitt, unveiled his new plans for a large Bellagio-style hotel resort with a
timeshare A timeshare (sometimes called vacation ownership) is a Real property, property with a divided form of ownership or use rights. These properties are typically resort condominium units, in which multiple Party (law), parties hold rights to use ...
development, surrounded by rides and amusements. The CIDC report suggested adding year-round commercial and amusement area, and recommended that property north of Surf Avenue and west of Abe Stark Rink could be rezoned for other uses, including residential. Sitt, a resident of the area, spent more than $100 million to buy land in Coney Island. Astroland owner Carol Hill Albert, whose husband's family had owned the park since its 1962 opening, sold the site to Thor in November 2006. Two months later, Thor released renderings for a $1.5 billion amusement park, entertainment complex, and indoor water park called Coney Island Park. In 2007, the DCP started circulating a rezoning plan that would cover of Coney Island. The city would spend $120 million to redevelop into an amusement park surrounded by around 5,000 new housing units. The Aquarium was also planning a renovation in conjunction with the rezoning. The city's and Sitt's proposals directly conflicted: Sitt wanted to build housing inside the amusement park, while the city's rezoning would create a special amusement district where residential development was forbidden. In April 2008, because of objections from land owners, residents, and developers, the city revised its rezoning proposal. Only 9 acres would be used as an amusement park, while private owners and developers could build on the rest of the land as long as they followed the DCP's general master plan. While the city negotiated with Thor, Sitt evicted several amusement operators on his land, including Astroland, in the expectation that he would soon be able to redevelop it. The DCP certified the rezoning plan in January 2009, which allowed the city to create a amusement district. At the time, Thor Equities said it hoped to complete the project by 2011. In June 2009, the city's planning commission approved the construction of 4,500 units of housing, including 900 affordable units, and promised to preserve affordable housing already in the neighborhood. Subsequently, the city government paid Sitt $95.6 million for of land. The nonprofit civic group
Municipal Art Society The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) is a non-profit membership organization for preservation in New York City, which aims to encourage thoughtful planning and urban design and inclusive neighborhoods across the city. The organization was ...
wanted the city-operated park to be larger, though the city was reluctant to spend so much money.


Progress on expansion

The Zipper and Spider on West 12th Street were closed permanently and dismantled in September 2007 after its owner lost his lease. The same year, plans to restore Coney Island's historic B&B Carousell were revealed. After Astroland closed in 2008, it was replaced by a new Dreamland in 2009 and by a new
Luna Park Luna Park is a name shared by dozens of currently operating and defunct amusement park An amusement park is a park that features various attractions, such as rides and games, as well as other events for entertainment purposes. A theme ...
in 2010. In April 2011, the first new roller coasters to be built at Coney Island in eighty years were opened as part of efforts to reverse the decline of the amusement area. The B&B Carousell reopened in 2013 at Luna Park. The
Thunderbolt A thunderbolt or lightning bolt is a symbolic representation of lightning Lightning is a naturally occurring electrostatic discharge during which two electric charge, electrically charged regions, both in the atmosphere or with one o ...
steel roller coaster, named after the original wooden coaster on the site, was opened in June 2014. Furthermore, a live performance venue, the Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island, opened on the boardwalk in 2016. In 2012,
Hurricane Sandy Hurricane Sandy (unofficially referred to as ''Superstorm Sandy'') was an extremely destructive and strong Atlantic hurricane, as well as the largest Atlantic hurricane on record as measured by diameter, with tropical-storm-force winds spann ...
caused major damage to the Coney Island amusement parks, the Aquarium, and businesses. Despite this, the
Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest The Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest is an annual American hot dog competitive eating competition. It is held each year on Independence Day (United States), July 4th at Nathan's Famous, Nathan's Famous Corporation's original, ...
was held the following summer, as usual. Luna Park at Coney Island reopened as scheduled on March 24, 2013. Rebuilding of the aquarium started in early 2013, and a major expansion of the aquarium opened in summer 2018. In August 2018, the NYCEDC and NYC Parks announced that Luna Park would be expanded between West 15th and West 16th Streets, next to the Thunderbolt. There would be 3 public plazas and an
amusement arcade An amusement arcade (often referred to as a video arcade, amusements or simply arcade) is a venue where people play Arcade game, arcade games, including arcade video games, pinball machines, electro-mechanical games, redemption games, merchandiser ...
within the newly expanded amusement area. The same month, it was also announced that a 50-room
boutique hotel Boutique hotels are small inventory, design driven, unique hotels with their own character, personality and storytelling at the heart of their concept. Positioning is secondary for these hotels as they focus on authenticity and personalization ...
was being planned for Coney Island within the former Shore Theater on Surf and Stillwell Avenues. The city also expressed its intent to demolish the Abe Stark Rink and redevelop the site, as per the 2009 rezoning, though residents wanted NYC Parks to retain control over the site rather than sell it off to a private developer. Many of these construction projects were placed on hold in 2020 with the
COVID-19 pandemic in New York City The first case of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City was confirmed on March 1, 2020, though later research showed that the novel coronavirus had been circulating in New York City New York, often called New Yor ...
. That year, the businesses and amusement parks at Coney Island either operated in a sharply reduced capacity or did not open at all. The parks reopened for the 2021 season, and Luna Park's expansion commenced in October 2021. The addition of new amusements coincided with the development of over 2,000 new residential units on empty lots, through the early 2020s. These included a 1,000-unit mega-development and a 40-story, 522-unit residential tower that would be the tallest in southern Brooklyn.


Oral history archive

In 2004, the Coney Island History Project began collecting stories of Coney Island from longtime residents. The CIHP records, archives, and shares oral history interviews about Coney Island. The organizations conducts interviews in English, Russian, Chinese, and Spanish. During the
COVID-19 pandemic The COVID-19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus pandemic, is an ongoing global pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The novel virus was first identif ...
, the CIHP continued to record interviews via phone or Skype. over 370 interviews were available online via th
Coney Island History Project Oral History Archive


Amusement parks and attractions

Coney Island has two amusement parks,
Luna Park Luna Park is a name shared by dozens of currently operating and defunct amusement park An amusement park is a park that features various attractions, such as rides and games, as well as other events for entertainment purposes. A theme ...
and Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, as well as several rides that are not incorporated into either amusement park. These are owned and managed by several different companies and operate independently of each other. Coney Island also has several other visitor attractions such as
skeeball Skee-Ball is an arcade game An arcade game or coin-op game is a coin-operated entertainment machine typically installed in public businesses such as restaurants, bars and amusement arcades. Most arcade games are presented as primarily game o ...
and ball tossing, as well as a
sideshow In North America, a sideshow is an extra, secondary production associated with a circus A circus is a company of performers who put on diverse entertainment shows that may include clowns, acrobats, trained animals, trapeze acts, musician ...
, that contains shooting, throwing, and tossing skills. The area hosts renowned events as well. Coney Island's amusement area is one of a few in the United States that is not mostly owned by any one entity.


Rides


Current rides

Coney Island contains three rides with landmark status. One is a
New York City designated landmark The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) is the New York City agency charged with administering the city's Landmarks Preservation Law. The LPC is responsible for protecting New York City's architecturally, historically, and cu ...
, another is listed in the
National Register of Historic Places The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) is the United States federal government's official United States National Register of Historic Places listings, list of Historic districts in the United States, districts, sites, buildings, struc ...
(NRHP), and a third is both a city landmark and a NRHP-listed landmark. The Wonder Wheel, opened in 1920, is a steel
Ferris wheel A Ferris wheel (also called a Giant Wheel or an observation wheel) is an amusement ride consisting of a rotating upright wheel with multiple passenger-carrying components (commonly referred to as passenger cars, cabins, tubs, gondolas, capsules ...
with both stationary cars and rocking cars that slide along a track. It holds 144 riders, stands tall, weighs over , and is located at Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park. The Wonder Wheel was made a city landmark in 1989. The B&B Carousell (as spelled by the frame's builder, William F. Mangels) is Coney Island's last traditional
carousel A carousel or carrousel (mainly North American English), merry-go-round (List of sovereign states, international), roundabout (British English), or hurdy-gurdy (an old term in Australian English, in South Australia, SA) is a type of amusement ...
, near the old entrance to
Luna Park Luna Park is a name shared by dozens of currently operating and defunct amusement park An amusement park is a park that features various attractions, such as rides and games, as well as other events for entertainment purposes. A theme ...
. The carousel was built circa 1906–1909 with a traditional roll-operated
fairground organ A fairground organ (french: limonaire) is a French pneumatic musical organ covering the wind and percussive sections of an orchestra. Originated in Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20 ...
. It was relocated multiple times, most recently to Luna Park's Steeplechase Plaza in 2013, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016. The
Coney Island Cyclone The Cyclone, also the Coney Island Cyclone, is a wooden roller coaster at Luna Park (Coney Island, 2010), Luna Park in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York City. Designed by Vernon Keenan (coaster designer), Vernon Keenan, it opened to the public ...
, opened in 1927, is one of the United States' oldest
wooden roller coaster A wooden roller coaster is a type of roller coaster classified by its wooden Rail tracks, track, which consists of running rails made of flat steel strips mounted on laminated wood. The support structure is also typically made of wood, b ...
s still in operation. The Cyclone includes an , 58-degree drop. It is owned by the City of New York, and is operated by
Luna Park Luna Park is a name shared by dozens of currently operating and defunct amusement park An amusement park is a park that features various attractions, such as rides and games, as well as other events for entertainment purposes. A theme ...
under a franchise agreement. The Cyclone was made a city landmark in 1988 and was listed on the NRHP in 1991. The Cyclone is New York City's only remaining wooden coaster and is considered "irreplaceable", since timber-supported coasters can no longer be built under modern city building codes. There are also multiple other rides in Coney Island. In March 2014, construction started on the new
Thunderbolt A thunderbolt or lightning bolt is a symbolic representation of lightning Lightning is a naturally occurring electrostatic discharge during which two electric charge, electrically charged regions, both in the atmosphere or with one o ...
, a
steel roller coaster A steel roller coaster is a roller coaster that is defined by having a track made of steel. Steel coasters have earned immense popularity in the past 50 years throughout the world. Incorporating tubular steel track and polyurethane-coated wheel ...
that was manufactured by
Zamperla Antonio Zamperla S.p.A. is an Italian design and manufacturing company founded in 1966. It is best known for creating family rides, thrill rides and roller coasters worldwide. The company also makes smaller Kiddie rides, coin-operated rides comm ...
at a cost of $10 million. The ride features of track, a height of , and a top speed of , as well as four inversions. The Thunderbolt opened in June 2014. There are also multiple bumper car rides in Coney Island, all operated separately. , these include an attraction in Deno's Wonder Wheel Park, as well as Eldorado Auto Skooter on Surf Avenue. Historically, the earliest bumper car rides were located in Coney Island. Furthermore, two traditional dark ride haunted houses operate at Coney Island: Spook-a-Rama at Deno's, and Ghost Hole on West 12th Street adjacent to Deno's.


Former rides

Coney Island has had three major amusement parks in its past— Steeplechase Park (1897–1964),
Luna Park Luna Park is a name shared by dozens of currently operating and defunct amusement park An amusement park is a park that features various attractions, such as rides and games, as well as other events for entertainment purposes. A theme ...
(1903–1944), and Dreamland (1904–1911)—as well as several standalone attractions. In addition, Astroland operated at the site of the current Luna Park from 1962 to 2008, while a second Dreamland operated at that site for only the 2009 season. In addition to the rides in Coney Island's former amusement parks, there were also several dozen roller coasters that are now defunct. The Comet, next to the Cyclone's current site, was built in 1921 and destroyed in 1945. Another coaster, the Oriental Scenic Railway, was created by LaMarcus Adna Thompson in 1887, and was demolished in 1955 to be replaced with a "hot rod" amusement ride. The steeplechase roller coaster, created by Steeplechase Park operator George C. Tilyou in 1897, consisted of people riding wooden horses around the park on a steel track. The original wooden
Thunderbolt A thunderbolt or lightning bolt is a symbolic representation of lightning Lightning is a naturally occurring electrostatic discharge during which two electric charge, electrically charged regions, both in the atmosphere or with one o ...
coaster, located between West 15th and West 16th Streets, was constructed in 1925, closed in 1983, and torn down in 2000 during the construction of nearby Keyspan Park. Nearby was
Tornado A tornado is a violently rotating column of air that is in contact with both the surface of the Earth and a cumulonimbus cloud or, in rare cases, the base of a cumulus cloud. It is often referred to as a twister, whirlwind or cyclone, althou ...
, a wooden coaster constructed in 1926, and destroyed by arson in 1977. Coney Island also contains one defunct ride that is still standing, the
Parachute Jump The Parachute Jump is a defunct amusement ride and a landmark in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, along the Riegelmann Boardwalk at Coney Island. Situated in Steeplechase Plaza near the B&B Carousell, the structure consists of a , open- ...
. Originally built as the
Life Savers Life Savers (stylized as LifeSavers) is an American brand of ring-shaped hard and soft candy. Its range of mints and fruit-flavored candies is known for its distinctive packaging, coming in paper-wrapped aluminum foil Aluminium foil (or alum ...
Parachute Jump at the
1939 New York World's Fair The 1939–40 New York World's Fair was a world's fair held at Flushing Meadows–Corona Park in Queens, New York, United States. It was the second-most expensive American world's fair of list of world's fairs, all time, exceeded only by St. Lo ...
, this was the first ride of its kind. Patrons were hoisted in the air before being allowed to drop using guy-wired parachutes. The Parachute Jump was closed in the 1960s, but was officially preserved, having been listed on the NRHP in 1980 and made a city landmark in 1989.


Beaches

There is a broad public sand beach that starts at Sea Gate at West 37th Street, through the central Coney Island area and Brighton Beach, to the beginning of the community of Manhattan Beach, a distance of approximately . The beach is continuous and is served for its entire length by the broad
Riegelmann Boardwalk The Riegelmann Boardwalk (also known as the Coney Island Boardwalk) is a boardwalk along the southern shore of the Coney Island peninsula in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, facing the Atlantic Ocean. Opened in 1923, the boardwalk runs bet ...
. Numerous amusements, as well as the aquarium and a variety of food shops and arcades, are directly accessible from the landward side of the boardwalk. The boardwalk in Manhattan Beach, located within Manhattan Beach Park, is not connected with the Riegelmann Boardwalk. The beaches in Coney Island used to be private until 1923 when the city bought all the land on the waterfront and created the Riegelmann Boardwalk and Beach. Today, only the sand beach inside Sea Gate is private; it is accessible solely to residents of that community. The public beaches are maintained on a regular basis by the city. Because sand no longer naturally deposits on the beach, it is replenished in regular
beach nourishment Beach nourishment (also referred to as beach renourishment, beach replenishment, or sand replenishment) describes a process by which sediment, usually sand, lost through longshore drift or erosion is replaced from other sources. A wider beach can ...
projects using dredged sand. The public beaches are open and free to use, though the boardwalk is closed during nights from 1 to 5 a.m. The beach area is divided into several sections by rock
groyne A groyne (in the U.S. groin) is a rigid hydraulic structure built perpendicularly from an ocean shore (in coastal engineering Coastal engineering is a branch of civil engineering concerned with the specific demands posed by constructing at or ...
s that were built in the 1920s to prevent erosion. There are several clubs that host activities on Coney Island's beach. The Coney Island Polar Bear Club consists of a group of people who swim at Coney Island throughout the winter months. Their most popular event is an annual swim on
New Year's Day New Year's Day is a festival observed in most of the world on 1 January, the first day of the year in the modern Gregorian calendar. 1 January is also New Year's Day on the Julian calendar, but this is not the same day as the Gregorian one. Whi ...
. The beach also serves as the training grounds for the Coney Island Brighton Beach Open Water Swimmers, a group dedicated to promoting
open water swimming Open water swimming is a swimming discipline which takes place in outdoor bodies of water such as open oceans, lakes, and rivers. The beginning of the modern age of open water human swimming, swimming is sometimes taken to be May 3, 1810, when L ...
, which hosts several open water swim races each year.


Public parks

There are several public parks in Coney Island, operated by the
New York City Department of Parks and Recreation The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, also called the Parks Department or NYC Parks, is the department of the government of New York City responsible for maintaining the city's parks system, preserving and maintaining the ecolog ...
. Parks within the main Coney Island neighborhood include: * The
Abe Stark Abe Stark (September 28, 1894 – July 2, 1972) was an American businessman and politician. Born on the Lower East Side in New York City, he became a tailor and owned a clothing store at 1514 Pitkin Avenue in the Brownsville, Brooklyn, Brownsvill ...
Skating Rink, located on the south side of Surf Avenue between West 19th and West 20th Streets, adjacent to the boardwalk. It opened in 1970. * Coney Island Creek Park, located along the south shore of Coney Island Creek. Opened in 1984, it is composed mostly of plants. * Leon S. Kaiser Park, located on the northern side of Neptune Avenue between West 24th and West 32nd Streets, and contains playgrounds, athletic facilities, fitness equipment, and open spaces for barbecuing. * Poseidon Playground, located along the beach between West 25th and West 27th Streets, and contains water spray showers, playgrounds, and handball courts. * Steeplechase Park, located along the beach between West 16th and West 19th Streets. It contains a public plaza with seating, as well as MCU Park, a minor league baseball stadium. * Surf Playground, located on the south side of Surf Avenue between West 25th and West 27th Streets, just north of Poseidon Playground. It contains basketball courts, playgrounds, and water spray showers.


Other attractions

The
New York Aquarium The New York Aquarium is the oldest continually operating Public aquarium, aquarium in the United States, located on the Riegelmann Boardwalk in Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York City. It was founded at Castle Garden in Battery Park, Manhattan in ...
opened in 1957 on the former site of the Dreamland amusement park. It is located on 602 Surf Avenue between West 5th and West 10th Streets. , the New York Aquarium consists of five exhibits: Aquatheater; Conservation Hall; Sea Cliffs; Sharks, Rays & Turtles; and Ocean Wonders: Sharks. The original
Bathysphere The Bathysphere ( Greek: , , "deep" and , , "sphere") was a unique spherical deep-sea submersible A submersible is a small watercraft designed to operate underwater. The term "submersible" is often used to differentiate from other under ...
, a deep-sea submersible that made historic journeys underwater in the 1930s, is on display at the aquarium. Maimonides Park is located on the former site of Steeplechase Park. Opened in 2001 as KeySpan Park, it hosts the
Brooklyn Cyclones The Brooklyn Cyclones are a Minor League Baseball team of the South Atlantic League and the High-A affiliate of the New York Mets The New York Mets are an American professional baseball team based in the Boroughs of New York City, New York ...
minor league baseball team. In 2010, it was renamed after the Municipal Credit Union (MCU), the city's largest credit union, in an eleven-year naming rights deal which ended in 2021. In June 2016, the Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island opened on the boardwalk to the west of Maimondies Park, hosting several live musical acts as well as other events. It was constructed at the location of the Childs Restaurant, which was originally constructed in 1923 and was renovated when the amphitheater was being constructed. The rooftop part of the restaurant reopened in July 2016. The nonprofit organization Coney Island USA also operates the Coney Island Museum, a collection of memorabilia that chronicles the history of the neighborhood. The museum opened in 1980, and is located at 1208 Surf Avenue near the intersection with West 12th Street. It charges a $5 admission fee per adult. Another nonprofit founded in 2004, the Coney Island History Project, operates a space near the Wonder Wheel.


Events

Coney Island USA sponsors various seasonal acts every year. In April, the organization hosts the Noisefest and the Congress of Curious Peoples. This is followed in May or June by the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, which takes place on Surf Avenue and the boardwalk, and features floats and performances. During August or September, Coney Island USA produces the Beard and Moustache Competition; Tattoo and Motorcycle Festival; and Coney Island Film Festival. The organization then hosts the Creepshow at the Freakshow, an interactive
Halloween Halloween or Hallowe'en (less commonly known as Allhalloween, All Hallows' Eve, or All Saints' Eve) is a celebration observed in many countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Saints' Day. It begins the observa ...
-themed event, in October. The annual Cosme 5K Charity Run/Walk, supported by the Coney Island Sports Foundation, takes place on the Riegelmann Boardwalk toward the end of June. A major national
volleyball Volleyball is a team sport in which two teams of six players are separated by a net. Each team tries to score points by grounding a ball on the other team's court under organized rules. It has been a part of the official program of the Summe ...
tournament hosted by the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP), which is typically hosted on the West Coast of the U.S., was held in Coney Island starting in 2006. The AVP built a 4,000-seat stadium and twelve outer courts next to the boardwalk for the event. The tournament returned to Coney Island from 2007 through 2009, but was not hosted at Coney Island in 2010 due to a lack of money. When AVP tournaments resumed in Brooklyn in 2015, they were hosted at Brooklyn Bridge Park instead. In 2009, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus performed in Coney Island for the first time since 1956. The event, titled ''The Coney Island Boom-A-Ring'', was housed in tents that were located between the boardwalk and Surf Avenue. The following year, they returned to the same location with ''The Coney Island Illuscination''. In May 2015, Thor Equities unveiled Coney Art Walls, a public art wall project curated by former
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA) is a contemporary art museum with two locations in greater Los Angeles, California. The main branch is located on Grand Avenue in Downtown Los Angeles, near the Walt Disney Concert Hall. MOCA's or ...
director Jeffrey Deitch and Thor CEO Joe Sitt. Located at 3050 Stillwell Avenue, the project featured work from more than 30 artists. The exhibition started being held annually through at least 2019.


Demographics

Based on data from the
2010 United States Census The United States census of 2010 was the twenty-third United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in N ...
, the combined population of Coney Island and Sea Gate was 31,965, a decrease of 2,302 (6.7%) from the 34,267 counted in
2000 File:2000 Events Collage.png, From left, clockwise: Protests against Bush v. Gore after the 2000 United States presidential election; Heads of state meet for the Millennium Summit; The International Space Station in its infant form as seen from ST ...
. Covering an area of , the neighborhood had a population density of . The racial makeup of the neighborhood was 32.2% (10,307)
African American African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans and Afro-Americans) are an Race and ethnicity in the United States, ethnic group consisting of Americans with partial or total ancestry from sub-Saharan Africa. The term "African American ...
, 30.9% (9,880)
White White is the lightest color Color (American English) or colour (British English) is the visual perception, visual perceptual Physical property, property deriving from the spectrum of light interacting with the photoreceptor cells of th ...
, 8.7% (2,793) Asian, 0.2% (78) Native American, 0.0% (4)
Pacific Islander Pacific Islanders, Pasifika, Pasefika, or rarely Pacificers are the peoples of the list of islands in the Pacific Ocean, Pacific Islands. As an ethnic group, ethnic/race (human categorization), racial term, it is used to describe the original p ...
, 0.2% (67) from other races, and 1.5% (467) from two or more races.
Hispanic The term ''Hispanic'' ( es, hispano) refers to people, Spanish culture, cultures, or countries related to Spain, the Spanish language, or Hispanidad. The term commonly applies to countries with a cultural and historical link to Spain and to Vic ...
or Latino of any race were 26.2% (8,369) of the population.Table PL-P3A NTA: Total Population by Mutually Exclusive Race and Hispanic Origin – New York City Neighborhood Tabulation Areas*, 2010
Population Division –
New York City Department of City Planning The Department of City Planning (DCP) is the department of the government of New York City responsible for setting the framework of urban planning, city's physical and socioeconomic planning. The department is responsible for land use and environm ...
, March 29, 2011. Accessed June 14, 2016.
82% of the population were
high school A secondary school describes an institution that provides secondary education and also usually includes the building where this takes place. Some secondary schools provide both '' secondary education, lower secondary education'' (ages 11 to 14) ...
graduates and 40% had a
bachelor's degree A bachelor's degree (from Middle Latin ''baccalaureus'') or baccalaureate (from New Latin, Modern Latin ''baccalaureatus'') is an Undergraduate degree, undergraduate academic degree awarded by colleges and universities upon completion of a course ...
or higher. The entirety of Community Board 13 had 106,459 inhabitants as of NYC Health's 2018 Community Health Profile, with an average life expectancy of 80.4 years. This is lower than the median life expectancy of 81.2 for all New York City neighborhoods. Most inhabitants are adults, with 25% between the ages of 25–44, 27% between 45 and 64, and 22% who are at least 65 years old. The ratio of young and college-aged residents was lower, at 19% and 8%, respectively. Coney Island's elderly population, as a share of the area's total population, is higher than in other New York City neighborhoods. As of 2016, the median
household income Household income is a measure of the combined incomes of all people sharing a particular household or place of residence. It includes every form of income, e.g., salaries and wages, retirement income, near cash government transfers like Supplement ...
in Community District 13 was $39,213. In 2018, an estimated 24% of Coney Island residents lived in poverty, compared to 21% in all of Brooklyn and 20% in all of New York City. One in eight residents (11%) were unemployed, compared to 9% in the rest of both Brooklyn and New York City. Rent burden, or the percentage of residents who have difficulty paying their rent, is 55% in Coney Island, slightly higher than the citywide and boroughwide rates of 52% and 51%, respectively. Based on this calculation, , Coney Island is not considered to be
gentrifying Gentrification is the process of changing the character of a neighborhood A neighbourhood (British English British English (BrE, en-GB, or BE) is, according to Oxford Dictionaries, " English as used in Great Britain, as distinct f ...
. According to the 2020 census data from
New York City Department of City Planning The Department of City Planning (DCP) is the department of the government of New York City responsible for setting the framework of urban planning, city's physical and socioeconomic planning. The department is responsible for land use and environm ...
, there were between 20,000 to 29,999 White residents, 10,000 to 19,999 Black residents, 5,000 to 9,999 Hispanic residents, and less than 5000 Asian residents.


Political representation

Politically, Coney Island is in New York's 8th congressional district. It is also in the
New York State Senate The New York State Senate is the upper house of the New York State Legislature; the New York State Assembly is its lower house. Its members are elected to two-year terms; there are no term limits. There are 63 seats in the Senate. Partisan c ...
's 23rd district, the
New York State Assembly The New York State Assembly is the lower house of the New York State Legislature, with the New York State Senate being the upper house. There are 150 seats in the Assembly. Assembly members serve two-year terms without term limits in the United ...
's 46th district, and the
New York City Council The New York City Council is the lawmaking body of New York City. It has 51 members from 51 council districts throughout the five Borough (New York City), boroughs. The council serves as a check against the Mayor of New York City, mayor in a may ...
's 47th district.


Police and crime

Coney Island is patrolled by the
NYPD The New York City Police Department (NYPD), officially the City of New York Police Department, established on May 23, 1845, is the primary municipal law enforcement agency within the New York City, City of New York, the largest and one of ...
's 60th Precinct, located at 2950 West Eighth Street. Transit District 34 is located at 1243 Surf Avenue, within the Coney Island–Stillwell Avenue subway station. The 60th Precinct ranked 34th safest out of 69 patrol areas for per-capita crime in 2010. Between 1993 and 2010, major crimes decreased by 72%, including a 76% decrease in robberies, 71% decrease in felony assaults, and 67% decrease in shootings. , with a non-fatal assault rate of 51 per 100,000 people, Coney Island's rate of
violent crime A violent crime, violent felony, crime of violence or crime of a violent nature is a crime in which an offender or perpetrator uses or threatens to use harmful force upon a victim. This entails both crimes in which the violence, violent act is t ...
s per capita is less than that of the city as a whole. The incarceration rate of 168 per 100,000 people is about the same as that of the city as a whole. The 60th Precinct has a lower crime rate than in the 1990s, with crimes across all categories having decreased by 84.6% between 1990 and 2019. The precinct reported 6 murders, 18 rapes, 121 robberies, 252 felony assaults, 85 burglaries, 425 grand larcenies, and 39 grand larcenies auto in 2019.


Fire safety

The
New York City Fire Department The New York City Fire Department, officially the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY), is an American department of the government of New York City The government of New York City, headquartered at New York City Hall in Lower Manha ...
(FDNY) operates two firehouses in the area. Engine Company 318/Ladder Company 166 is located at 2510 Neptune Avenue. It contains the Coney Island Fire Station Pumping Station, listed on the
National Register of Historic Places The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) is the United States federal government's official United States National Register of Historic Places listings, list of Historic districts in the United States, districts, sites, buildings, struc ...
. Engine Company 245/Ladder Company 161/Battalion 43 is located at 2929 West 8th Street. In addition, FDNY EMS Station 43 is on the grounds of Coney Island Hospital.


Health

,
preterm birth Preterm birth, also known as premature birth, is the Childbirth, birth of a baby at fewer than 37 weeks Gestational age (obstetrics), gestational age, as opposed to full-term delivery at approximately 40 weeks. Extreme preterm is less than 28 we ...
s and births to teenage mothers are slightly more common in Coney Island than in other places citywide. In Coney Island, there were 95 preterm births per 1,000 live births (compared to 87 per 1,000 citywide), and 20.2 births to teenage mothers per 1,000 live births (compared to 19.3 per 1,000 citywide), slightly higher than in the median neighborhood. Coney Island has a high population of residents who are
uninsured Insurance is a means of protection from financial loss in which, in exchange for a fee, a party agrees to compensate another party in the event of a certain loss, damage, or injury. It is a form of risk management, primarily used to Hedge ( ...
, or who receive healthcare through
Medicaid Medicaid in the United States is a federal and state program that helps with Health care, healthcare costs for some people with limited income and resources. Medicaid also offers benefits not normally covered by Medicare (United States), Medicare ...
.New York City Health Provider Partnership Brooklyn Community Needs Assessment: Final Report
New York Academy of Medicine The New York Academy of Medicine (the Academy) is a health policy and advocacy organization founded in 1847 by a group of leading New York metropolitan area The New York metropolitan area, also commonly referred to as the Tri-State area, i ...
(October 3, 2014).
In 2018, this population of uninsured residents was estimated to be 14%, which is higher than the citywide rate of 12%. The concentration of fine particulate matter, the deadliest type of
air pollutant Air pollution is the contamination of air due to the presence of substances in the atmosphere that are harmful to the health of humans and other Outline of life forms, living beings, or cause damage to the climate or to materials. There ar ...
, in Coney Island is , lower than the citywide and boroughwide averages. Nineteen percent of Coney Island residents are smokers, which is higher the city average of 14% of residents being smokers. In Coney Island, 28% of residents are
obese Obesity is a medical condition, sometimes considered a disease, in which excess Adipose tissue, body fat has accumulated to such an extent that it may negatively affect health. People are classified as obese when their body mass index (BMI) ...
, 15% are
diabetic Diabetes, also known as diabetes mellitus, is a group of metabolic disorders characterized by a hyperglycemia, high blood sugar level (hyperglycemia) over a prolonged period of time. Symptoms often include frequent urination, Polydipsia, increase ...
, and 31% have
high blood pressure Hypertension (HTN or HT), also known as high blood pressure (HBP), is a Chronic condition, long-term Disease, medical condition in which the blood pressure in the artery, arteries is persistently elevated. High blood pressure usually does not ...
—higher than the citywide averages of 24%, 11%, and 28% respectively. In addition, 18% of children are obese, compared to the citywide average of 20%. Ninety-two percent of residents eat some fruits and vegetables every day, which is slightly higher than the city's average of 87%. In 2018, 70% of residents described their health as "good," "very good," or "excellent," lower than the city's average of 78%. For every supermarket in Coney Island, there are 21 bodegas. The primary hospital in the neighborhood is Coney Island Hospital.


Post offices and ZIP Codes

Coney Island's primary ZIP Code is 11224, though small portions located east of West 1st Street and Ocean Parkway are located in ZIP Code 11235. There are two
United States Post Office The United States Postal Service (USPS), also known as the Post Office, U.S. Mail, or Postal Service, is an Independent agencies of the United States government, independent agency of the executive branch of the Federal government of the Uni ...
branches in Coney Island. The Coney Island Station is located at 2727 Mermaid Avenue, and the Neptune Station is located at 532 Neptune Avenue.


Education

Coney Island generally has a similar ratio of college-educated residents to the rest of the city . While 45% of residents age 25 and older have a college education or higher, 18% have less than a high school education and 37% are high school graduates or have some college education. By contrast, 40% of Brooklynites and 38% of city residents have a college education or higher. The percentage of Coney Island students excelling in math has been increasing, though reading achievement has declined; math achievement rose from 53 percent in 2000 to 72 percent in 2011, but reading achievement fell from 57 to 55 percent within the same time period. Coney Island's rate of elementary school student absenteeism is higher than the rest of New York City. In Coney Island, 26% of elementary school students missed twenty or more days per
school year A school is an educational institution designed to provide learning spaces and learning environments for the teaching of students under the direction of teachers. Most countries have systems of formal education, which is sometimes compulsor ...
, compared to the citywide average of 20% of students.


Elementary, middle, and high schools

Coney Island is served by the
New York City Department of Education The New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) is the department of the government of New York City that manages the city's public school system. The City School District of the City of New York (or the New York City Public Schools) is t ...
, and students in the neighborhood are automatically "zoned" into the nearest public schools. The zoned schools for the main portion of Coney Island include: * PS 90 Edna Cohen School (grades K-5) * PS 100 Coney Island School (grades K-5) * PS 188 The Michael E. Berdy School (grades K-4) * PS/IS 288 The Shirley Tanyhill School (grades PK-8) * IS 303 Herbert S. Eisenberg (grades 6–8) * PS 329 (grades PK-5) IS 239, the Mark Twain School for the Gifted and Talented (6–8), is a
magnet school In the U.S. education system, magnet schools are public schools with specialized courses or curricula. " Magnet" refers to how the schools draw students from across the normal boundaries defined by authorities (usually school boards) as sch ...
for gifted students, and it accepts students from around the city. In 2006, David Scharfenberg of ''
The New York Times ''The New York Times'' (''the Times'', ''NYT'', or the Gray Lady) is a daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership reported in 2020 to comprise a declining 840,000 paid print subscribers, and a growing 6 million paid d ...
'' said, "Coney Island's elementary schools are a mixed lot, with only some exceeding citywide averages on the state's testing regimen." All New York City high school students can go to any high school in the city. There are two public high schools in Coney Island: Abraham Lincoln High School and Rachel Carson High School for Coastal Studies.


Public library

The
Brooklyn Public Library The Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) is the public library system of the New York City borough of Brooklyn. It is the sixteenth largest public library system in the United States by holding and the seventh by number of visitors. Like the two Brookl ...
(BPL)'s Coney Island branch is located at 1901 Mermaid Avenue, near the intersection with West 19th Street. It opened in 1911 as an unmanned deposit station. Ten years later, it moved to the former '' Coney Island Times'' offices and became fully staffed. In 1954 another branch was built. According to BPL's website, the library was referred to as "the first-ever library built on stilts over the Atlantic Ocean." The branch was rebuilt in 2013 after being damaged in Hurricane Sandy.


Transportation

Coney Island is served by four
New York City Subway The New York City Subway is a rapid transit system owned by the government of New York City and leased to the New York City Transit Authority, an affiliate agency of the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). Opened on October 2 ...
stations. The Coney Island–Stillwell Avenue station, the terminal of the , is one of the largest elevated rapid transit stations in the world, with eight tracks serving four platforms. The entire station, built in 1917–1920 as a replacement for the former surface-level Culver Depot, was rebuilt in 2001–2004. The other subway stations within Coney Island are , served by the ; , served by the ; and , served by the . A bus terminal beneath the Stillwell Avenue station serves the to Prospect Park, the to Sea Gate, the to Bay Ridge, and the to Starrett City. Additionally, the runs from Sea Gate to
Sheepshead Bay Sheepshead, Sheephead, or Sheep's Head, may refer to: Fish * '' Archosargus probatocephalus'', a medium-sized saltwater fish of the Atlantic Ocean * Freshwater drum The freshwater drum, ''Aplodinotus grunniens'', is a fish endemic to North ...
. The provide express bus service to Manhattan. The three main west–east arteries in the neighborhood are (from north to south) Neptune Avenue, Mermaid Avenue, and Surf Avenue. Neptune Avenue becomes Emmons Avenue at Sheepshead Bay, while Surf Avenue becomes Ocean Parkway and then runs north toward Prospect Park. The north–south cross streets in Coney Island are numbered, with "West" prepended to their numbers. The street numbers run from West 1st Street at Coney Island's eastern border to West 37th Street at the western border, adjacent to Sea Gate. Coney Island contains several
bicycle paths Cycling infrastructure is all infrastructure cyclists are allowed to use. Bikeways include bike paths, bike lanes, cycle tracks, rail trails and, where permitted, sidewalks. Roads used by Motor vehicle, motorists are also cycling infrastructu ...
. The Ocean Parkway bicycle path terminates in the neighborhood, while the
Shore Parkway A shore or a shoreline is the fringe of land at the edge of a large body of water, such as an ocean, sea, or lake. In physical oceanography, a shore is the wider fringe that is geologically modified by the action of the body of water past a ...
bike path (part of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway) runs east along
Jamaica Bay Jamaica Bay is an estuary on the southern portion of the western tip of Long Island, in the U.S. state of New York (state), New York. The estuary is partially man-made, and partially natural. The bay connects with Lower New York Bay to the west, ...
and west and north along New York Harbor. On-street bike lanes are marked in Neptune Avenue and other streets in Coney Island. In addition, the Riegelmann Boardwalk is open to cyclists during the daytime, though bicycling hours are restricted during the summer months. In 2019,
NYC Ferry NYC Ferry is a public network of ferry A ferry is a ship, watercraft or amphibious vehicle used to carry passengers, and sometimes vehicles and cargo, across a body of water. A passenger ferry with many stops, such as in Venice, Italy, is ...
announced that the western part of Coney Island would be served by the Coney Island ferry route beginning in 2021. However, , the implementation of the Coney Island route had been delayed indefinitely.


In popular culture

Coney Island has been featured in many novels, films, television shows, cartoons, and theatrical plays. This is linked to its iconic status as a vacation destination. Various
slapstick Slapstick is a style of humor involving exaggerated physical activity that exceeds the boundaries of normal physical comedy. Slapstick may involve both intentional violence and violence by mishap, often resulting from inept use of props such a ...
comedies and films have been set at Coney Island or allude to it. There have also been several television documentaries about the area's history.


References


Notes


Sources

*
Rem Koolhaas Remment Lucas Koolhaas (; born 17 November 1944) is a Dutch architect, architectural theory, architectural theorist, urbanist and Professor in Practice of Architecture and Urban Design at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Graduate School of ...
, '' Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan'' (Academy Editions, London, 1978; republished, The Monacelli Press, 1994 — a large part of the book focuses on Coney Island amusement parks) * John F. Kasson, ''Amusing The Million: Coney Island at the Turn of the Century'' (Hill and Wang, New York, 1978; Distributed in Canada by Douglas and McIntyre Ltd.) * Charles Denson, ''Coney Island: Lost and Found (Ten Speed Press, 2002)
Coney Island
, a 1991 documentary film by
Ric Burns Ric Burns (Eric Burns, born 1955) is an American documentary filmmaker and writer. He has written, directed and produced historical documentaries since the 1990s, beginning with his collaboration on the celebrated Public Broadcasting Service, PBS ...
for
American Experience ''American Experience'' is a television program airing on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the United States. The program airs Documentary film, documentaries, many of which have won awards, about important or interesting events and peopl ...
* *


Further reading


The Comprehensive History of Coney Island
at Heart of Coney Island * Coney Islan


Bland as Sand: Developers Stalk Coney Island
The Indypendent
Gritty and Trashy... That’s Why I Love It
The Indypendent * Bruce, Jeannette

'Sports Illustrated'', August 28, 1967 * Coney Islan
History Project
*


External links

*
Coney Island History Project - Oral History Archive of Coney Island
{{authority control Amusement parks in New York (state) Articles containing video clips Barrier islands of New York (state) Former islands of New York City Islands of Brooklyn Islands of New York City Neighborhoods in Brooklyn Populated coastal places in New York (state) Seaside resorts in New York (state)