Gene and I were just in NYC last month and had an amazing time. We were able to see and do some of the things that we hadn’t been able to on previous trips, including a tour of Yankee Stadium as well as a game at Citi Field. However, another thing that was high on our list to do was to check out Coney Island. It has always been fall or winter when we had been there, and it was just a little too cold to spend the day running around Coney Island. However, May was a perfect time to visit for a couple of reasons. First, it was scorching, which is extremely important for me as I am NOT a heat person. Secondly there usually aren’t a lot of people and tourists there yet. We also quickly learned that the rides and such weren’t open for the season yet (the park opened the following weekend 🙁 ) which also cut down on the would-be traffic.
Even with that, there were quite a few people hanging around, eating at the second location of Nathan’s, sunbathing, shopping, and such. The ice cream stands were already doing a good business. Actually many vendors were actually already set up and keeping busy. Seeing the ocean was what I really wanted to see and it was awesome to see the Atlantic again. There were a few people flying kites, which was nice to watch as we sat and enjoyed a soda and our ice cream. I have to admit it was also fun walking along the boardwalk and seeing the song in our heads. Here is a video in case you want to walk along with us, so to speak, lol. (Credit to Riahsha via Youtube)
For a little bit of history, the area was originally part of a colonial town named Gravesend but had become a seaside resort area by the mid-19th century. By the late 19th century, amusement parks started popping up, and by the early 20th century they reached a historical peak. At its height, it contained three competing major amusement parks: Luna Park, Dreamland, and Steeplechase Park (s well as many independent amusements), with Switchback Railway, a gravity coaster, being the very first roller coaster at Coney Island.
Coney Island quickly became known as a top getaway and “a symbol of Americans’ increasing pride. Some of the other names among the early rides were the Wonder Wheel, the Tornado, Thunderbolt, the Coney Island Cyclone, and the Parachute Jump. Several are still there today as you can see from the pictures I am sharing in this post.
Another icon in the area is the Riegelmann Boardwalk which I mentioned earlier. It is a2.7 mile-long boardwalk along the southern shores of the Coney Island Peninsula, is made of wooden blanks in a chevron pattern, ranges from 50 to 80 feet wide, and connects several amusement areas and attractions on Coney Island.
One other thing I wanted to share was the Steeplechase Pier. It was built in 1904 and is the only pier remaining on Coney Island. When the pier was first built it was estimated as being about 2,000 feet long, but today it only extends about 1,040 feet. This is due to the pier being damaged multiple times by hurricanes, fires, and boat accidents. The fire in 1957 completely destroyed the pier and a replacement opened the following year with a t-shaped extension at the end. Then in 2012 it was damaged again by Hurricane Sandy and was rebuilt, and reopened again in 2013.
Before I end this post, I wanted to share a little bit more about some of the incredible rides we saw while walking around. Again, sadly they weren’t open for the season yet or I would have shared some video of the excitement, screams, etc. However, I can at least share a little bit about each of them to whet your appetite if you are going to be in the area soon.
The Coney Island Cyclone
The Cyclone opened in 1927 and is one of the oldest wooden roller coasters here in the United States. It is the ride that I think most people associate with Coney Island and is considered “irreplaceable” because the timber-supported coasters can no longer be built under modern city building codes. Let’s hope nothing ever happens to it. With that said, the ride includes a85 foot, 58-degree drop, was made a city landmark in 1988, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.
Another ride that many guests flock to each summer is the Wonder Wheel. The wheel opened in 1920 and was made a city landmark in 1989. It is a steel Ferris wheel with both stationary cars and rocking cars that slide along a track, holds 144 riders, stands 150 feet tall, and weighs over 200 tons. I bet there are some amazing views from the top. Maybe one day we will get to go on a ride and see for ourselves.
Thunderbolt is one of the newest rides of these I am mentioning, opening in 2014, but still looks like a lot of fun. It features 2,000 feet of track, a height of 125 feet tall, and a top speed of 65 miles per hour which includes four inversions. Wow, that should get your adrenaline running, lol.
I can’t list a few rides and not mention the B&B Carousel. It is the oldest of the rides being built from 1906 to 1909. Sadly it is Coney Island’s last traditional carousel, but has a traditional roll-operated fairground organ, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016.
I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about Coney Island, as well as some of the amusement park rides. As you can see there were also many shops and restaurants, vendors, etc around the boardwalk and we had a great time people-watching and just taking in the moment. Now that I have a taste for the area, I know we will be back, if nothing more than to see the ocean, lol. Seriously I hope we can go back and take in a few rides. I think it would be fun to do it in the dark with everything all lit up. I think that would be wonderful just to take it all in again at night. Have you been to Coney Island? If so, please leave a comment and tell me what you thought during your visit. Here is a link to a website with more info if you haven’t been and want to plan your own trip. Make sure to save room for Nathan’s hotdogs and some ice cream! Happy travels.
Coney Island Visitor Information
1208 Surf Ave Brooklyn, NY 11224
Vary during seasons. Check each venue for hours.
Vary depending on what you are doing during your time on Coney Island.
As with anywhere in New York, it is best to take public transportation. However, I have listed multiple ways to get to Coney Island if you do have a car.
Take the D, Q, N, or F train to Stillwell Avenue. This takes about 45 – 60 minutes from midtown Manhattan.
B36 (Coney Island / Avenue U/Sheepshead Bay)
B64 (Coney Island / Bay Ridge)
B68 (Coney Island / Windsor Terrace)
B74 (Sea Gate / Coney Island)
B82 (Coney Island / Spring Creek)
By Express Bus from Manhattan:
Take the Belt Parkway to exit 6. Head south on Cropsey Avenue to West 17th Street. MCU Park and the Parachute Jump will be in front of you on Surf Avenue. Metered Parking is available along most streets. There are commercial parking lots on West 17th Street at MCU Park and West 12th Street between Mermaid and Surf, West 15th Street between the Boardwalk and Surf, and Neptune Avenue between West 12th and Stillwell Avenue.
Metered Parking is available along most streets. There are commercial parking lots on West 17th Street at MCU Park and West 12th Street between Mermaid and Surf, West 15th Street between the Boardwalk and Surf, and Neptune Avenue between West 12th and Stillwell Avenue.
This is an accessible beach. Beach mats are available at West 33 Street, Stillwell Avenue, West 5th Street, Brighton 2nd Street, and Brighton 6th Street.
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