We took a trip to Coney Island to enjoy the city’s most classic summer destination.
For those living in the Big Apple, is there a more classic way to spend a sun-soaked summer day than at Coney Island? New York’s playground since 1884, Coney Island has entertained and amused for over a century. And it is still going strong, as we can attest. Last week we took a trip down to Coney from our Brooklyn HQ to beat the heat, ride the rides, and enjoy a few of Nathan’s famous hot dogs.
Jutting out from the most southern tip of Brooklyn, Coney Island was a true island until 1824, when the Coney Island Road and Bridge Company built the first bridge connecting the now famous tourist destination to the mainland. Almost immediately the company built the first hotel on the beachfront, and Brighton Beach was founded not long after. Quickly Coney Island became a go-to destination for city-goers who wanted a break from the city, but couldn’t get too far.
But for decades Coney Island catered only to those who could afford a carriage ride from the city. It wasn’t until the advent of rapid transit that the Coney Island we know today really took shape. Suddenly people of all walks of life could escape the heat of the the city and enjoy a day on the beach. People swarmed to Coney Island from all over New York, but especially inhabitants of the city’s tightly packed tenements, ecstatic to finally have a chance for some accessible sea breeze. The first roller coaster got rolling in 1884, and the rest is history.
Coney Island has always been crowded, but that’s part of its charm. There's a certain zen that can only be achieved amidst a swarm of kids on summer vacation, families of tourists, and couples on a cheap date. To us, it's uniquely New York, and that's why we love it.
There's a reason Coney has stood the test of time: from Nathan’s hot dogs to the Cyclone, Coney Island is a New York institution. And it’s stayed that way because so many people have had a chance to enjoy it – we know we certainly did.
So while Coney Island may have lost a little of glamor that it first held – back when the only way to get there was via horse drawn carriages, and before funnel cake was invented and the amusement park got covered in a thin patina of grease – it has found whole new type of charm that is very much a part of what New York is today. To spend a day enjoying the games, rides, and beaches of Coney Island is to enjoy a day with folks from all five boroughs and beyond.