Coney Island

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Aerial view of the beach at Coney Island.[1]
Image of the Coney Island peninsula from the air.

Coney Island is a peninsula, formerly an island, in southernmost Brooklyn, New York City, USA, with a beach on the Atlantic Ocean. The neighborhood of the same name is a community of 60,000 people in the western part of the peninsula, with Seagate to its west; Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach to its east; and Gravesend to the north.

The area was a major resort and site of amusement parks that reached its peak in the early 20th century. It declined in popularity after World War II and endured years of neglect. In recent years, the area has seen the opening of KeySpan Park, home to the successful Brooklyn Cyclones minor league baseball team.


[edit] Geography

Coney Island is the westernmost of the barrier islands of Long Island, about four miles (6 km) long and one-half mile wide. It used to be an island, separated from the main part of Brooklyn by Coney Island Creek, part of which was little more than tidal flats. There were plans into the 20th century to dredge and straighten the creek as a ship canal, but they were abandoned and the center of the creek was filled in for construction of the Belt Parkway before World War II. The western and eastern ends are now peninsulas.[citation needed]

[edit] Demographics

Coney Island is made up of Russians, African Americans, Hispanics and West Indians. As of 2000 census, there were 51,205 people living in Coney Island. Of those people, 40.3% were White, 44.2% were Black or African American, 18% were Hispanic or Latino, 3.8% were Asian, 0.5% were Native American, 0.1% were Pacific Islander, 7.6% were some other race and 3.7% were two or more races. 70.5% had a High School degree or higher, 20.7% had a Bachelor's degree or higher. The median household income as of 1999 was $21,281.

[edit] History

Dreamland tower and lagoon in 1907

[edit] The name

Native American inhabitants, the Lenape, called the island Narrioch[citation needed] (land without shadows), because, as is true of other south shore Long Island beaches, its compass orientation keeps the beach area in sunlight all day.[citation needed] The Dutch name for the island was Conyne Eylandt (Konijn Eiland in modern Dutch spelling),[2] meaning Rabbit Island. This name is found on the New Netherland map of 1639 by Johannes Vingboon. (New York State and New York City were originally a Dutch colony and settlement, named Nieuw Nederlandt and Nieuw Amsterdam.) As with other Long Island barrier islands, Coney Island was virtually overrun with rabbits, and rabbit hunting was common until the resorts were developed and most open space eliminated. It is generally accepted by scholars[3][4] that Coney Island is an English adaptation of the Dutch name, Konijn Eiland. Coney is also an obsolete and dialectal English word for rabbit. Coney came into the English language through Old French (Conil), which derives from the Latin word for rabbit, cuniculus. The English name "Conney Isle" was used on maps as early as 1690,[5] and by 1733 the modern spelling "Coney Island" was used.[6] The John Eddy map of 1811 also uses the modern "Coney Island" spelling.[7]

Even though the history of Coney Island's name and its Anglicization can be traced through historical maps spanning the 17th century to the present,[8] and all the names translate to "Rabbit Island" in modern English, there are still those who contend that the name derives from other sources. Some say that early English settlers named it Coney Island after its cone-like hills. Others claim that an Irish captain named Peter O'Connor had, in the 1700s, named Coney Island after an island (Inishmulclohy) in County Sligo, Ireland. Yet another purported origin is from the name of the Indian tribe (the Konoh tribe) who supposedly once inhabited it. A further claim is that the island is named after Henry Hudson's "right-hand-man" John Coleman, supposed to have been slain by Indians.[9]

[edit] The resort

The Wonder Wheel and Astroland Park as seen from the Coney Island Beach.

Coney Island became a resort after the Civil War as excursion railroads and the Coney Island & Brooklyn Railroad streetcar line reached the area in the 1860s. With the rail lines, steamship lines and access to the beach came major hotels and public and private beaches, followed by horse racing, amusement parks, and less reputable entertainments such as Three-card Monte, other gambling entrepreneurs, and prostitution.[citation needed]

When the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company electrified the steam railroads and connected Brooklyn to Manhattan via the Brooklyn Bridge 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.[citation needed]

Charles I. D. Looff, a Danish woodcarver, built the first carousel at Coney Island in 1876. It was installed at Vandeveer's bath-house complex at West 6th Street and Surf Avenue. The complex was later called Balmer's Pavilion. The carousel consisted of hand-carved horses and animals standing two abreast. Two musicians, a drummer and a flute player, provided the music. A metal ring-arm hung on a pole outside the ride, feeding small, iron rings for eager riders to grab. A tent-top protected the riders from the weather. The fare was five cents.[citation needed]

Nathan's Famous original hot dog stand opened on Coney Island in 1916 and quickly became a landmark. An annual hot dog eating contest has been held there on July 4 since its opening, but has only attracted broad attention and international television coverage during the last decade.[citation needed]

In 1915 the Sea Beach Line was upgraded to a subway line, followed by the other former excursion roads, and the opening of the New West End Terminal in 1919 ushered in Coney Island's busiest era.[10]

After World War II, contraction began seriously from a series of pressures. Air conditioning in movie theaters and then in homes, along with the advent of automobiles, which provided access to the less crowded and more appealing Long Island state parks, especially Jones Beach, lessened the attractions of Coney's beaches. Luna Park closed in 1946 after a series of fires and the street gang problems of the 1950s spilled over into Coney Island.

Subsidized apartments for low-income residents around Coney Island.

The presence of threatening youths did not impact the beachgoing so much as it discouraged visitors to the rides and concessions - the staples of the Coney Island economy. A major blow was struck in 1964 when Steeplechase Park, the last of the major parks, closed.[citation needed]

The builder and New York City Parks Commissioner Robert Moses actively opposed the "tawdry" entertainment at Coney and discouraged the building of new amusements. Housing projects, for low and moderate incomes, were built in what had been amusement areas, and the aquarium project, where Dreamland once stood, reduced the available area for more traditional amusements.[citation needed]

In Coney Island's lowest years there was some incremental improvement in relatively small areas, notably the preservation and later the expansion of what had been the rides area at the back of the Feltman's property as Astroland. The general improvement in New York City's infrastructure, commercial prospects and image after the 1970s fiscal crisis under the mayoral administration of Edward I. Koch helped Coney Island, and many improvements were made under the mayoralty of Rudolph Giuliani, continuing with his successor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, helped by the Wall Street booms of the 1980s and 1990s, which brought considerable money to the City through financial industry taxes.[citation needed]

While all of the neighborhood's original amusement parks have long since closed down — Steeplechase being the last in 1964 — one, Astroland, since revived. Astroland gradually expanded and there are now also several organized amusement areas along with a number of independent rides and concessions.[citation needed]

[edit] Development

A resort-like senior living house on Coney Island.

[edit] Early development

Development on Coney Island has always been controversial. When the first structures were built around the 1840s, there was an outcry to prevent any development on the island and preserve it as a natural park. Starting in the early 1900s, the City of New York made efforts to condemn all buildings and piers built south of Surf Avenue. It was an effort to reclaim the beach which by then had almost completely been built over with bath houses, clam bars, amusements, and other structures. The local amusement community opposed the city. Eventually a settlement was reached where the beach did not begin until 1,000 feet (300 m) south of Surf Avenue, the territory marked by a city-owned boardwalk, while the city would demolish any structures that had been built over public streets, to reclaim beach access.

[edit] Robert Moses

Since the 1920s, all property north of the boardwalk and south of Surf Avenue was zoned for amusement and recreational use only, with some large lots of property north of Surf also zoned for amusements only.

In 1944, Luna Park was damaged by fire, and sold to a company who announced they were going to tear down what was left of Luna Park and build apartments. Robert Moses had the land rezoned for residential use with the proviso that the apartment complex include low-income housing.

In 1949, Moses moved the boardwalk back from the beach several yards, demolishing many structures, including the city's municipal bath house. He would later demolish several blocks of amusements to clear land for both the New York Aquarium and the Abe Stark ice skating rink. Critics complained that Moses took three times more land than each structure needed, surrounding each with vacant lots that were of no use to the city.

In 1953, Moses had the entire island rezoned for residential use only and announced plans to demolish the amusements to make room for public housing. After many public complaints, the Estimate Board reinstated the area between West 22 Streets and The Cyclone as amusement only and threw in 100 feet (30 m) of property north of Surf Av. between these streets. It has since then been protected for amusement use only, which has led to many public land battles.

[edit] Fred Trump

The Parachute jump towers over the Coney Island boardwalk.

In 1964, Coney Island's last remaining large theme park, Steeplechase Park, closed. The rides were auctioned off, and the property was sold to developer Fred Trump, the father of Donald Trump. Trump, convinced that the amusement area would die off once the large theme parks were gone, wanted to build luxury apartments on the old Steeplechase property. He spent ten years battling in court to get the property rezoned. At one point Trump organized a funeral for amusement parks in Coney Island. Trump invited the press to the funeral where bikini-clad girls first handed out hot dogs, then handed out stones which Fred invited all to cast through the stained-glass windows of the pavilion. Then, pronouncing the amusement park dead, he had the pavilion bulldozed. After a decade of court battles, Trump exhausted all his legal options and the property was still zoned only for amusements. He eventually leased the property to Norman Kaufman, who ran a small collection of fairground amusements on a corner of the site calling his amusement park "Steeplechase Park".

But between the loss of both Luna Park and the original Steeplechase Park, as well as an urban-renewal plan that took place in the surrounding neighborhood where middle class houses were replaced with housing projects, fewer people visited Coney Island. With attendance dropping, many amusement owners abandoned their properties. In the late 1970s, the city came up with a plan to revitalize Coney Island by bringing in gambling casinos, as had been done in Atlantic City. The city's plans backfired when the prospect of selling property to rich casino owners created a land boom where property was bought up and the rides cleared in preparation of reselling to developers. Gambling was never legalized for Coney, and the area ended up with vacant lots.

[edit] 1970s

In 1979 the city purchased Steeplechase Park from Fred Trump and proceeded to evict Norman Kaufman's amusements. By this time, Kaufman had expanded his park and had plans to eventually rebuild the historic Steeplechase Park. He had even bought back the original Steeplechase horse ride with plans to install it the following season. But the city decided it did not want to wait decades for Steeplechase park to be rebuilt and believed it could attract a developer to build a large combination theme park and casino on the site. The property remained vacant for another five years.

[edit] Horace Bullard

In the mid 1980s, businessman Horace Bullard approached the city to allow him to rebuild Steeplechase Park. He had already bought several acres of property just East of the Steeplechase Park site, including the property with a large coaster called The Thunderbolt and property west of Abe Stark rink. His plans called for the combination of his property as well as the Steeplechase property and the unused property on the Abe Stark site as a multimillion-dollar theme park based on the original. The city agreed and in 1986 the state legislature approved the project. However, several bureaucrats held up the project for another two years while the NYC Planning Commission compiled an environmental impact report. In 1987, state senator Thomas Bartosiewics attempted to block Bullard from building on the Steeplechase site. Bartosiewics was part of a group called The Brooklyn Sports Foundation which had promised another theme park developer, Sportsplex, the right to build on the site. Construction was held up for another four years as Bullard and Sportsplex fought over the site.

[edit] Keyspan Stadium

In 1994, Rudy Giuliani took office as mayor of New York and killed the Bullard deal. Giuliani claimed he wanted to build Sportsplex, provided it include a stadium for a minor-league team owned by the Mets. But when Giuliani ordered the stadium to be built first, Sportsplex accused the city of planning to build a parking lot on the property earmarked for the Sportsplex construction. Giuliani publicly denied this and promised Sportsplex could begin construction the moment the stadium was finished. As soon as the stadium was completed, Giuliani killed the Sportsplex deal and had the parking lot built. The Mets decided the minor league team would be called The Brooklyn Cyclones and sold the naming rights to the stadium to Keyspan Energy. Executives from Keyspan complained that the stadium's line of view from the rest of Coney Island amusement area was blocked by the now derelict Thunderbolt coaster and considered not going through with the deal. Bullard, now no longer rebuilding Steeplechase Park, had wanted to restore the coaster as part of a scaled-down amusement park. The following month, Giuliani ordered an early-morning raid on the Thunderbolt, claiming that the coaster was in immediate danger of collapse and ordering it bulldozed. The structure that was supposed to be near collapse took many days to be torn down. No connection between the Mets organization and the demolition has ever been proven, but many accuse Giuliani of tearing it down at the Mets' request.

[edit] Thor Equities

In 2003, Mayor Michael Bloomberg took an interest in revitalizing Coney Island as a possible site for the 2012 Olympics. A plan was developed by the Astella Development Corporation. When the city lost the bid for the Olympics, revitalization plans were rolled over to The Coney Island Development Corporation (CIDC), which came up with a plan to restore the resort. Many amusement owners worried that because one of the report's goals to develop the area as a year-round destination, they could be forced out as their businesses are only seasonal and did not meet the CIDC's year-round goal. The CIDC also suggested that property north of Surf Avenue and west of Abe Stark should be rezoned for other uses including residential to lure developers into the area. Shortly before the CIDC's plans were publicly released, a development company, Thor Equities, purchased all of Bullard's western property, worth $2.2 million, for $16 million. Now owning property that was earmarked for rezoning to residential, they sold the property to Taconic for a $72 million profit. Thor then went about using much of the $72 million to purchase property well over market value lining Stillwell Avenue and offered to buy out every piece of property inside the traditional amusement area. Quickly, rumors started that Thor was interested in building a retail mall in the heart of the amusement area. In September 2005, Thor's founder, Joe Sitt, went public with his new plans, which he claimed was going to be a large Bellagio-style hotel resort surrounded by rides and amusements. He also claimed that the interior of the resort would have an indoor mall that would allow local amusement owners to relocate their rides and operate them indoors year round and made promises that he had no intention of driving out any local amusement owners and wanted them all to be part of his new resort. Sitt released renderings of a hotel that would take up the entire amusement area from the Aquarium to beyond Keyspan Park and would most likely need to involve the demolition of The Wonder Wheel, Cyclone, and Nathan's original hot dog stand, as well as the new Keyspan Park. At the same time, the borough of Brooklyn was involved with two other major development projects: the Atlantic Yards project, which involved eminent domain; and the Brooklyn Bridge Park project, which involved the demolition of a building with landmark status. Many feared that the city had already backed Thor's plans and that the entire amusement district would be demolished to make way for the new multimillion dollar resort.

In June 2006 Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn (EEK), an architectural design firm working for Thor, released detailed renderings of Thor's planned resort area showing luxury high rise condo towers in place of the hotel with retail on the ground floor. Since the area has both zoning restrictions only allowing amusements and no buildings taller than 260 feet (79 m). Thor initially denied any inclusion of condo towers in its plans and Eek quickly removed the renderings from its site, but not before blogs everywhere published copies of the renderings. Thor quickly released renderings of rides, including a steel coaster that would run above the boardwalk, a two tiered carousel, and a fountain at the foot of Stillwell Av. that would project images of whales and mermaids. Thor admitted that condos would be part of its resort and said that the resort was not economically feasible without the addition of condos. At a public meeting Thor representatives continued to downplay the condos by claiming that the company only wanted to build hundreds of condo units, not thousands. While Thor initially said it only wanted to build 575 condos the number crept up to 975. Late in 2006 Thor announced that it had just purchased Coney Island's last remaining amusement park, Astroland, and would be closing it after the 2007 season. Immediately Thor announced plans to build a Nickelodeon-themed hotel on the site.

In January 2007 Thor released renderings for a new amusement park to be built on the Astroland site called Coney Island Park. [11]

Critics pointed out that even though Thor claimed its project would expand the amusement area, the company had already evicted several acres of amusements from the property it bought and planned to evict the rest of the amusements on the property after the 2007 season, as well as close Astroland.

Meanwhile, the city brought up its own concerns about Thor's plans based on history with the developer. In 2001 Thor purchased the Albee Square Mall for $25 million claiming it wanted to revitalize it. Thor said it wanted to give the mall a Vegas-style makeover and bring in more name brand retail while maintaining the original vendors occupying the mall. The city complied and rezoned the property to permit the building of an office tower above the mall. Soon after, Thor sold the property to Arcadia Reality Trust for $125 million. Arcadia plans to demolish the mall and build the tower only with a possible box store on the ground level. City officials questioned Thor's motives for wanting the zoning changes inside the amusement zone and feared that once Thor gets those changes, it will flip the property to the highest bidder who will have no obligation to build any amusements.

In the winter of 2007 Thor meant business and began to evict businesses from the buildings it owned along the boardwalk. But when one of the business owners went to the press with a statement that Thor was requiring its tenants to sign a confidentiality clause that lasted three years and prevented them from publicly commenting on Thor redeveloping the area, Thor quickly reinstated their leases.

Astroland owner Carol Hill Albert, whose husband's family had owned the park since 1962, sold the site to developer Thor Equities in November 2006 for an undisclosed amount. Thor proposed a $1.5 billion renovation and expansion of the Coney Island amusement area to include hotels, shopping, movies, an indoor water park and the city's first new roller coaster since the Cyclone. The Municipal Art Society launched the initiative ImagineConey[12], in early 2007, as discussion of a rezoning plan that highly favored housing and hotels began circulating from the Department of City Planning[13]. MAS held several public workshops, a call for ideas, and a charrette to garner attention to the issue. City Planning certified the rezoning plan in January 2009 to negative responses from all amusement advocates and Coney Island enthusiasts. The plan is currently working through the ULURP process.[14] Thor Equities has said it hopes to complete the project by 2011.[15] The Aquarium is also planning a renovation.[16]

[edit] The Coney Island amusements

Between about 1880 and World War II, Coney Island was the largest amusement area in the United States, attracting several million visitors per year. At its height it contained three competing major amusement parks, Luna Park, Dreamland, and Steeplechase Park, as well as many independent amusements.

Today the major parks are Astroland, Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park (a successful family owned park with over 20 rides located directly on the Boardwalk), 12th Street Amusements, and Kiddie Park. Also, the Eldorado arcade has its own indoor bumper car ride. The Zipper and Spider on 12th Street were closed permanently on September 4, 2007 and dismantling begun, after its owner lost his lease. They are to be reassembled at an amusement park in Honduras.[17] Astroland, closed September 7, 2008.[18]

[edit] Rides

World-famous Cyclone roller coaster.
The Wonder Wheel.

Today, the amusement area contains various rides, games such as skeeball, ball tossing, and a sideshow; games of shooting and throwing and tossing skills.

The rides and other amusements at Coney Island are owned and managed by several different companies, and operate independently of each other. It is not possible to purchase season tickets to the attractions in the area.

Three of the rides at Coney Island are protected as designated NYC landmarks and recognized by the National Register of Historic Places.

  • Wonder Wheel. Built in 1918 and opened in 1920, this steel Ferris wheel has both stationary cars and rocking cars that slide along a track. It holds 144 riders, stands 150 feet (46 m) tall, and weighs over 2,000 tons. At night the Wonder Wheel's steel frame is outlined and illuminated by neon tubes. It is part of Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park.[19]
  • The Cyclone roller coaster, built in 1927, is one of the nation's oldest wooden coasters still in operation. A favorite of some coaster aficionados, the Cyclone includes an 85-foot (26 m), 60 degree drop. It is owned by the City, and operated by Astroland, under a franchise agreement. It is located across the street from Astroland.
  • The Parachute Jump, originally the Life Savers Parachute Jump at the 1939 New York World's Fair, was the first ride of its kind. Patrons were hoisted 190 feet (58 m) in the air before being allowed to drop using guy-wired parachutes. Although the ride has been closed since 1968, it remains a Coney Island landmark and is sometimes referred to as "Brooklyn's Eiffel Tower." Between 2002 and 2004, the Jump was completely dismantled, cleaned, painted and restored, but remains inactive. After an official lighting ceremony in July 2006, the Parachute Jump was slated to be lit year round using different color motifs to represent the seasons. However, this idea was scrapped when New York City started conserving electricity in the summer months. It has not been lit regularly since.

Other notable attractions include:

  • The B&B Carousell (that was how the frame's builder, William F. Mangels, spelled it). In addition to its unusual spelling, it is Coney Island's last traditional carousel, now surrounded by furniture stores, near the old entrance to Luna Park. The carousel is an especially fast one, with a traditional roll-operated band organ. When the long-term operator died unexpectedly, the carousel was put up for auction, and it was feared the ride would leave Coney Island or, worse, that it would be broken up for sale to collectors, being one of the last intact traditional carousels in the U.S. still in private hands. In an act of brinksmanship with the owners, the City of New York bought the B&B Carousell a few days before the auction. It has been dismantled and will operate in Coney Island; the specific location is still to be determined. All the other carousels on Coney Island are kiddie park-style.

[edit] Rides of the past

The Thunderbolt, as of 1995
  • Thunderbolt, a roller coaster across the street from Steeplechase Park that was constructed in 1925. The ride closed in 1983. It was torn down by the city "to protect public safety" in 2000 during the construction of nearby Keyspan Park.
  • Tornado, a roller coaster constructed in 1926. It suffered a series of small fires which made the structure unstable and was torn down in 1977.

[edit] Other parks and venues

Coney Island is also the location of the New York Aquarium, which opened in 1957 on the former site of the Dreamland amusement park. In 2001, KeySpan Park opened on the former site of Steeplechase Park to host the Brooklyn Cyclones minor-league baseball team.

In August 2006 Coney Island hosted a major national volleyball tournament sponsored by the Association of Volleyball Professionals. The tournament, usually held on the West Coast, was televised live on NBC. The league built[citation needed] a 4,000-seat stadium and 12 outer couts next to the Boardwalk for the event. Its promotional partner is Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment. The tournament would return to Coney Island in 2007 and 2008.

Lifeguard at Coney Island Beach

[edit] The beach

Coney Island still maintains a broad sandy beach from West 37th Street at Seagate through the Coney Island and Brighton Beach to the beginning of the community of Manhattan Beach, a distance of approximately 2½ miles (~4.0 km). The beach is continuous and is served for its entire length by the broad Riegelmann boardwalk. A number of amusements are directly accessible from the land side of the boardwalk, as is the New York Aquarium and a variety of food shops and arcades.

The beach is groomed and replenished on a regular basis by the city. The position of the beach and lack of significant obstructions means virtually the entire beach is in sunlight all day. The beach is open to all without restriction and there is no charge for use. The beach area is divided into "bays", areas of beach delineated by rock jetties, which moderate erosion and the force of ocean waves.

The Coney Island Polar Bear Club[20] is a group of people who swim at Coney Island throughout the winter months, most notably on New Year's Day when additional participants join them to swim in the frigid waters.

[edit] Mermaid Parade

The Mermaid Parade, which takes place on Surf Avenue and the boardwalk, featuring floats and various acts, has been produced annually by Coney Island U.S.A. — a non-profit arts organization which is dedicated to preserving the dignity of American Popular Culture. The group, which was established in 1979, also produces the Coney Island Film Festival, Burlesque At The Beach, and Creepshow at the Freakshow (an interactive Halloween-themed event), and houses the Coney Island Museum.

[edit] The communities

In front of the Parachute Jump, walkers stroll along the Coney Island boardwalk.

The neighborhoods on Coney Island, running eastward are Sea Gate (a private community), Coney Island proper, Brighton Beach, and Manhattan Beach.

Sea Gate is one of a handful of neighborhoods in New York City where the streets are owned by the residents and not the city; it and the Breezy Point Cooperative are the only city neighborhoods cordoned off by a fence and gate houses.

Its main subway station is called Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue and is reached by the New York City Subway trains of the D F N Q. The three main avenues in the Coney Island community, are (north to south) Neptune Avenue (which crosses to the mainland to become Emmons Avenue), Mermaid Avenue, and Surf Avenue (which becomes Ocean Parkway and then runs north towards Brooklyn's Prospect Park).

The cross streets in the Coney Island neighborhood proper are numbered with "West" prepended to their numbers, running from West 1st Street to West 37th Street at the border of Sea Gate.

The majority of Coney Island's population resides in approximately thirty 18- to 24-story towers, mostly various forms of public housing. In between the towers are many blocks that were filled with burned out and vacant buildings. Since the 1990s there has been steady revitalization of the area. Many townhouses were built on empty lots, popular franchises have set up shop, and Keyspan Park was built to serve as the home for the Cyclones, a minor league baseball team in the New York Mets' farm system. Once home to many Jewish residents, most of those living on Coney Island today are African American, Italian American, or Hispanic.

[edit] Education

Coney Island is served by the New York City Department of Education.

The Coney Island neighborhood is zoned to PS 90 (K-5) and IS 303 Herbert S. Eisenberg (6-8). PS/IS 288 The Shirley Tanyhill School (Pre-K-8), PS 329 (K-5), PS 188 The Michael E. Berdy School (K-5), PS 100 (K-5), and Mark Twain (6-8) are all schools located in the heart of Coney Island. There are no zoned high schools.

Nearby high schools include:

[edit] Coney Island in popular culture

[edit] In slang

[edit] In literature

  • "A Coney Island of the Mind" by Lawrence Ferlinghetti is a classic collection of poems from the Beat era. The title was inspired by Henry Miller's work.
  • The Warriors by Sol Yurick is the 1965 novel that the 1979 movie with the same name (see above) was based upon. The novel itself is loosely based upon Anabasis by Xenophon. Today, some Coney Island gift shops sell t-shirts and other merchandise based on the film.
  • Samantha at Coney Island by "Josiah Allen's Wife" (Marietta Holley), 1911, was a popular young-adult novel in the early 20th century.
  • In The Great Gatsby, Gatsby invites Nick to go to Coney Island after his meeting with Jordan Baker.
  • In "Coney" by Amram Duchovny, a tale about 1930s Coney Island as told from the perspective of a 15-year-old Jewish boy as he relates his interactions with his family, the group of freaks from Coney's sideshow, the midget who owns the bike shop on the boardwalk, the wheelchair crime boss with arson on his mind, and many other colorful characters from this historic Brooklyn landmark.
  • Poem "Coney Island" by Jose Martí in 1881
  • Coney Island is often mentioned in O.Henry's stories.
  • In " Twelve" by Nick McDonell, a novel about a group of rich kids in Manhattan who pass their time taking drugs and partying, the protagonist, White Mike, visits Coney Island. The amusement area is described very negatively (shabby, run-down, deserted, no kids, but hookers and drug dealers).
  • In "Amusing the Million: Coney Island at the Turn of the Century" by John F. Kasson, the author "examines the historical context in which Coney Island made its reputation as an amusement park and shows how America's changing social and economic conditions formed the basis of a new mass culture."
  • In Kevin Baker's book Dreamland, much of the drama and pivotal moments take place in the vicinity of Coney Island and its amusemement parks.
  • "The Last Shot" by Darcy Frey follows a group of high school basketball players from Coney Island.
  • "Wonderland" a poem by Trash about the Junkyard Baseball Venue. The poem, set in Coney Island, follows a young man's journey from a local park (the mythical Junkyard) to the major leagues.
  • In Rachel Trezise's short story collection "Fresh Apples", there is a story called "Coney Island" set partly in Coney Island in Brooklyn, and partly in Coney Beach, Porthcawl, South Wales, a beach and funfair named after New York's Coney Island.

[edit] In film and on stage

In chronological order

  • The 1927 silent film It, starring Clara Bow, features a trip to the park and a tour of the historic rides.
  • In the 1928 silent film Speedy, Harold Lloyd spends a day at Coney Island with his girlfriend.
  • In the critically acclaimed 1953 independent film Little Fugitive, a small boy runs away to Coney Island after thinking he has killed his brother.
  • Perhaps the most famous fictional residents of Coney Island come from Walter Hill's 1979 cult film The Warriors. Based on Sol Yurick's novel, the film charts the progress of a street gang called "The Warriors" as they travel from their Coney Island turf up to a meeting in the Bronx, get framed for killing a powerful gang leader, and then have to fight their way back to Coney Island with gang members and police chasing them.
  • Alvy Singer, the lead character in Woody Allen's 1977 semi-autobiographical film classic Annie Hall lived in Coney Island as a child in a house that was under the Thunderbolt rollercoaster that shook wildly every time the coaster made its rounds. Alvy's father ran the bumper cars' concession.
  • Neil Simon's 1983 play Brighton Beach Memoirs (also a 1986 movie) depicts growing up in the Coney Island area, and features scenes with the Coney Island rollercoaster in the background.

[edit] In music

  • An early musical reference came in 1926 with "Coney Island Washboard Roundelay", music by Hampton Durand and Jerry Adams, words by Ned Nestor and Aude Shugart. The song is commonly accompanied by a percussionist playing a washboard.
  • "Goodbye, My Coney Island Baby" was written in 1948 by Les Applegate and is often included in the repertoire of a barbershop quartet.
  • Australian modern classical composer Don Banks (1923 - 1980) composed a short orchestral work called "Coney Island" around 1960 to 1961, which gives a vivid musical picture of the amusement park. It was included on an L.P. record, "Musical Merry-go-round", released in 1961, with music by various composers inspired by the circus and fairground world, played by the Sinfonia of London, conducted by Douglas Gamley and Robert Irving.
  • American singer-songwriter Lou Reed's 1976 album is entitled Coney Island Baby and features the track "Coney Island Baby".
  • American rock band Aerosmith has a song called "Bone to Bone (Coney Island Whitefish Boy)" from their 1979 album Night in the Ruts.
  • American rock band Joan Jett & the Blackhearts has a song called "Coney Island Whitefish" from their 1982 album Album.
  • American rock band Velvet Underground has a song called "Coney Island Steeplechase" on the 1986 album Another View.
  • British Group Swing Out Sister recorded a track called "Coney Island Man" during their "Kaleidoscope World" sessions and featured on their single "You On My Mind" in 1989.
  • Pop group New Kids on the Block filmed parts of the video for "Please Don't Go Girl" at Coney Island. Several rides including the Wonder Wheel and the Hell Hole are shown.
  • American rock band Mercury Rev references Coney Island in the song "Coney Island Cyclone", from their 1991 album Yerself Is Steam.
  • American synth-pop band The Magnetic Fields references Coney Island in "Strange Powers" from 1994's Holiday''.
  • American alternative rap / alternative rock group Fun Lovin' Criminals has a song called "Coney Island Girl" on their 1996 album Come Find Yourself.
  • American rock band Death Cab for Cutie have a song called "Coney Island" from their 2001 album, The Photo Album.
  • American singer-songwriter Tom Waits has a song called "Coney Island Baby," on his 2002 album Blood Money. He also references Coney Island in his songs "Table Top Joe" from the 2002 album Alice and "Take It With Me" from the 1999 album Mule Variations.
  • New York singer/songwriter and banjo contortionist, Curtis Eller has a song "Coney Island Blue" on his 2004 album "Taking Up Serpents Again"
  • Brooklyn, New York indie rock band, The Honey Brothers (which features Adrian Grenier on percussion) have a track titled "Coney Island Baby (I Am Yours)" which is available for download at their MySpace URL.
  • American Detroit, Michigan native rapper Bizarre's 2007 album release is titled "Blue Cheese 'n' Coney Island" referring to the style of chili dog.
  • American band Beat Circus' 2008 album entitled Dreamland, references the turn-of-the-century Coney Island theme park Dreamland in several of its songs including Coney Island Creepshow and Hell Gate, and includes historical images and postcards of early Coney Island donated by the Coney Island Museum.
  • The Franz Ferdinand song Eleanor Put Your Boots Back On features lyrics about a girl in New York, and includes the lines '"But if you run you can run to the Coney Island roller coaster / Ride to the highest points / And leap across the filthy water'".
  • The Godspeed You! Black Emperor song "Sleep" features Murray Ostril reminiscing over the glory days of Coney Island, supposedly in a post-apocalyptic existence.
  • Cyndi Lauper's 1994 DVD entitled "Twelve Deadly Cyns And Then Some" contains footage of the singer spending an afternoon at Coney Island. Refer to IMDB for verification.
  • In 2008, reggaeton singer De La Ghetto filmed some parts of his video Es Dificil in Coney Island. The Wonder Wheel is visible in some parts of the video.
  • The 311 Song "Welcome" from their album Music makes reference in the lyric "A Coney Island of the mind it's mine // I swipe the sweets strip the beats in the sunshine"
  • In the episode of The Golden Girls entitled "Sophia's Wedding" Sophia mentions how her late husband Sal and his business partner used to run a pizza & knish stand at Coney Island.
  • British band Tears for Fears' song Call Me Mellow on their album Everybody Loves a Happy Ending includes the lyric '"We'd live on ice-cream on Coney Island '".
  • The indie/folk-rock band Good Old War have a song called "Coney Island" on their debut album, Only Way To Be Alone.
  • Coney Island is mentioned in David Bowie's song "Slip Away" from his album Heathen.
  • American Hip Hop artist Bobby Bloodbath of Coney Island, NY references his hometown in a guest appearance on "Concerto del Muerto" a track off of the Wax and EOM album entitled Liquid Courage, released independently by AGP in December 2008.

[edit] Video games

  • In Grand Theft Auto IV, the neighborhood of "Firefly Island" is based on Coney Island. A theme park based on Coney Island can be found with rides named "Screamer" (which is directly based on The Cyclone), the Liberty Eye Ferris wheel (based on Wonder Wheel), and "The Corpse Ride" (based on Dante's Inferno). The Parachute Jump can also be found on the boardwalk.
  • In 2005, The Warriors movie was also adapted as a video game for the Playstation 2 and Xbox home entertainment systems and on PlayStation Portable system. Both the movie and the video game open with an iconic nighttime shot of Deno's Wonder Wheel.
  • Coney Island appears as a Resistance-controlled area in the Sierra game Manhunter: New York. Interestingly enough, the version of Coney Island depicted in the game is based on Dreamland, an amusement park that operated in Coney Island until its destruction by fire in 1911.
  • In Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne, a theme park situated in Coney Island is repeatedly visited. The theme park is also the home of Mona Sax, one of the main characters.

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ This photograph was taken prior to 1995, as evinced by the fact that KeySpan Park does not appear to the left of the Parachute Jump, and the Half Moon Hotel (the U-shaped building just below the photo's center) is still standing.
  2. ^ Joan Vinckeboons (Johannes Vingboon), "Manatvs gelegen op de Noot Riuier", 1639. Coney Island is labelled "Conyne Eylandt". Image of Vinckeboons map at Library of Congress.
  3. ^ Library of Congress New Netherland Website Lists Conyne Eylandt as Dutch name for Coney Island.
  4. ^ "De Nieu Nederlandse Marcurius", Volume 16, No. 1: February 2000. This is the newsletter of the New Netherland Project. Cites New Netherland map labeling "Conyne Eylandt" in 1639 Johannes Vingboon map.
  5. ^ Robert Morden, "A Map of ye English Empire in the Continent of America", 1690. Coney Island is labelled "Conney Isle". Image of Morden map at SUNY Stony Brook.
  6. ^ Henry Popple, "A Map of the British Empire in America", Sheet 12, 1733. Coney Island is labelled "Coney Island". Image of Popple Map can be found at David Rumsey Map Collection
  7. ^ John H. Eddy, "Map Of The Country Thirty Miles Round the City of New York", 1811. Coney Island is labeled "Coney I." Image of Eddy Map can be found at David Rumsey Map Collection.
  8. ^ Refer to maps given above.
  9. ^ Coney Island Gets a Name
  10. ^ Matus, Paul. "The New BMT Coney Island Terminal". The Third Rail Online. Retrieved on 2007-08-29. 
  11. ^ [1] 1.5 Billion Development Plan For Coney Island Publication: The New York Sun Date: 11/13/2006
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ See Bloomberg News, November 29, 2006.
  16. ^ "Plans Coming Together For Coney Island Amusement Park Expansion", NY1, November 14, 2006
  17. ^ Calder, Rich (2007-09-05) "Ride Over for Coney Classics" New York Post, New York. Retrieved 2007-09-05.
  18. ^
  19. ^ See Deno's Wonder Wheel
  20. ^ Welcome to Coney Island Polar Bear Club

[edit] Further reading

  • Rem Koolhaas, 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.)

[edit] External links

[edit] Map

Coordinates: 40°34′28″N 73°58′43″W / 40.574416°N 73.978575°W / 40.574416; -73.978575

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