Coney Island Bay sits on Lower Bay about twenty minutes southwest of Brooklyn, New York. Immortalized in such movies as BIG, Coney Island is laced with a never-ending carnival atmosphere, creating an eclectic and lively New York borough. In the early 20th century, people couldn’t get enough of Coney Island, an major amusement and resort area that suffered major decline after the war but has enjoyed a significant comeback over the last decade. Experiencing ups and downs, the island has resurfaced as a popular entertainment locale and one of the better urban New York beaches.
The Coney Island neighborhood is home to 50,000+ people on the peninsula’s west side, with Sea Gate on the western edge, and Brighton and Manhattan Beach to the east. It spans a half-mile wide and four miles long. Area history is deep and rich, from an outcry over expansion to major development, and historical gaps are filled by interesting facts shaping Coney Island into a world-renowned destination, and one far enough from the city to offer a proper getaway for locals.
Coney Island Beach is a wide, sand swimming beach stretching from Sea Gate’s West 37th street across the central island area to Brighton Beach, ending at Manhattan Beach, spanning almost three miles. There are no gaps along the way, creating a perfect walking beach and long waterfront to explore. Riegelmann Boardwalk lines the entire beach and because it’s extra-wide, and offers a good spot to roller blade or cycle. On the back side of the boardwalk are numerous amusements, a trait Coney Island Beach is acclaimed for. There is also a popular aquarium, many arcades, and dozens of dining options.
Though the beach on Coney Island has been a bone of contention for preservationists, development has never encroached on the sandy waterfront and today sunlight washes over the entire length. The sand is groomed and refilled by the city regularly and the beach is open to the public for free use. A famous island club, called The Coney Island Polar Club, are a group bravely swimming the water in the sub-zero winter season for decades, most famously on New Year’s Day.
Around the island, and particularly near the beach, are several key annual events. The Coney Island Film Festival kicks off in October each year as well as Halloween-based Creepshow at the Freakshow, and Burlesque At The Beach. Coney Island Beach also hosts the annual Mermaid Parade, an popular event inaugurated more than three decades ago, happening on the boardwalk and along Surf Avenue with a multitude of diverse acts and unique floats
Coney Island Beach isn’t just an amusement area or lazy summer beach, it also offers fun, active pursuits. Recreation is possible all along the three miles of sand, from beach volleyball to basketball and handball. There are a half-dozen playgrounds for younger kids, amusement rides and attractions totaling more than fifty, and plenty to explore along the boardwalk. Newly built Baseball stadium MCU Park is home to the New York Mets and also a popular concert venue featuring acts like Phish, Jay-Z, and The White Stripes. The Abe Stark Ice Skating Rink is a great place for winter fun while the NY Aquarium is open in all seasons.