Coney Island, Brooklyn
Walking back towards Coney Island down the boardwalk
we passed by a wall with a mural.
There is about 5 miles of boardwalk stretching from Coney Island to Manhattan Beach.
Food stands on the boardwalk at Astroland Park.
Walking down the boardwalk, we came across some sort of
school bus storage yard.
Along the boardwalk we also came across several neglected areas where weeds had just taken over the entire space. Obviously Playland closed a long, long time go.
On the beach – lots of local Brooklyn families.
Walking down the pier.
I stopped for a while to watch this ancient Asian man fishing on the pier. He had some sort of chum or bait in a small bag that he put into the large net and then lowered it into the water. After a few minutes he would raise the net and it would be filled with a bunch of tiny silver fish. He’d scoop them out with the small net, dump them in a pail, smash up the chum/bait, put it back in the net, and lower the net back into the water.
These are the fish he caught.
I was looking back towards the shore, looking at the people and the rides. I looked down and saw that right next to my hand was a dried up fish baked on to the pier railing.
For over 100 years people have been flocking to Coney Island for cheap thrills and eats. Back in the day, it was known The Poor Man’s Paradise or as the Nickel Empire, because for 5 cents you could get a hot dog, a knish, or a whirl on an amusement park ride. Coney Island is where the first roller coaster in America was built and where, although it’s disputed, the first hot dog was made.
Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower, the Parachute Jump, made it’s debut at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. It was operational for many years, but is no longer. In 1977 it was declared a historical landmark.
Farther down the boardwalk there is a building that many mistake for an old bath house. Research shows that it is used to be a restaurant in the Childs restaurant chain. This year it was awarded landmark status. More information here and here.
Some reports I’ve read say that Coney Island is where the hot dog, a sausage wrapped in bread, was invented. Others say that they were served like this in Frankfurt & Austria for hundreds of years before. In either case, a visit to Coney Island wouldn’t be complete without eating one. More on the history of Nathan’s.
Next to Nathan’s was a bar (that we did not go to) serving
Pina Coladas with free refills and having a wet t-shirt contest.
Next to the that bar was a sort of arcade game but with a real person. For a fee, you could shoot at this guy with a paintball gun. As you can tell, this is the classy end of the Coney Island boardwalk.
Yesterday, Mark and I visited Coney Island for the first time and found that today’s Coney Island is a mere shadow of it’s former self. That hotdog will cost you at least $2.50 and a ride on the Cyclone goes for $5. It’s magnitude was less than I’d expected and included a lot more urban decay.
It started to rain, but luckily we were headed indoors to the New York Aquarium. Months ago I saw a women in the subway carrying a tote that said “New York Aquarium” on it and became somewhat obsessive about finding out where it was and visiting it. Now I can let it go.
Seahorses at the aquarium.
One of the underwater viewing areas at the aquarium. The walruses were one of my favorites. They were very active and swimming so close to the window that they touched it.
Something Russian for 50 Cents, Brighton Beach, Brooklyn
Um. . Shish Kebab of Lamb Balls?, Brighton Beach, Brooklyn
Also, while we were out there we visited Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, which is commonly referred to as Little Odessa because “it is by the seaside and chock-full of Russian immigrants, who came here in waves over the last century“. Mark & I tracked down a cafe that I found recommended online, but it was pretty pricey and seemed touristy so we left and discovered this little place that had really cheap, really tasty shish kebabs. We ate them while watching Russian boy bands sing & lamely dance on the wide screen TV in the back. This place also had really tasty Russian pear soda. After the shish kebabs we ate big pieces of fried dough, one with meat and one with potato.
Brighton Beach feels like a foreign country. Everything is written in Russian. Our waitress walked up to our table and spoke to me in Russian and seemed a little surprised that I didn’t know it. Do I look Russian? Also in Brighton Beach – towers upon towers of beach front old folks homes and public projects.
It was fun trip out to see a historical destination spot, a neighborhood that made you feel like you were in a foreign country, and to hang out with a good friend I haven’t seen in quite a while.
The Wonder Wheel is a 150 foot tall ferris wheel that was built in 1920 and still runs today.
Astroland USA opened in 1962 and still is in business today. This
is where all of the carnival rides and games are located at Coney Island.