When I was a young teenager, probably no more than around 13, I loved MGM musicals. It started with the Wizard of Oz and went on from there. One of my favourite movies was called ‘On The Town (1949)’, the premise was that 3 sailors, played Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly and Jules Munshin had only one day in New York City. During the movie Gene Kelly’s character falls love with a poster of Miss Turnstiles, Ivy Smith whilst riding the subway. They set out to find her using the information on the poster and meet 2 other ladies along the way, a taxi driver named Brunhilde Esterhazy played by Betty Garrett who they happen across her whilst looking for Ivy and Claire Huddeson played by Ann Miller, at the Museum of Anthropological History.
During the movie the characters discover that despite her airs and graces Ivy Smith is actually a dancer at Coney Island. Whilst I know that the Coney Island portrayed in this and other films is not true to life I have always wanted to visit there.
When Dawn and I were discussing what to do during our recent trip to New York, it came up that Dawn also wished to visit Coney Island. We had decided that as we were going to do different things on this visit so a trip out to Coney Island seemed perfect.
On mentioning our intent to visit Coney Island we were met with various reactions ranging from ‘ I don’t know what that is’ to ‘why do you want to go there?’ I know that beach side resorts are not seen as cool anymore. I suspect that many New Yorkers probably view Coney Island in a similar way that those of us from the UK view Blackpool, Scarborough or Eastbourne; as resorts that were popular and good but are now past their prime.
This didn’t stop us from at least feeling that a visit was needed.
As Dawn and I were staying in Midtown the subway was the easiest way to get to Coney Island. The train journey is well over an hour as Coney Island is at the far tip of Brooklyn.
On exiting the subway station you are greeted by Nathan’s Hot Dogs, a Coney Island staple since 1919. As we walked up towards the boardwalk (pier) we passed the Luna Park Fairground on either side. As we weren’t there to visit the fair we decided just to wander through the fair, we wanted to at least see the oldest wooden rollercoaster in America – the Cyclone.
We decided to wander along the boardwalk just to soak up the atmosphere of the area. There are shops and restaurants along the boardwalk ending with the Aquarium. Once we had got as far as the Aquarium, we decided to turn and walk back along the beach, even though the weather wasn’t particularly sunny the beach was quite busy with families enjoying it.
As we walked along the beach and boardwalk we came across a pier that extended out in to the sea, we walked along this passing the fishermen who were patiently trying to catch a bite and families enjoying a nice day with ice creams and picnics. The view of Coney Island from the end of the pier was spectacular from the Ford Amphitheatre on the left to the Aquarium on the right. One of the most significant and saddest views was of the tower of the former Parachute Jump ride standing alone amongst the bars and restaurants at the left side of the resort. This tower is a relic of a era goneby although I have read that this tower has recently been referred to as the ‘Eiffel Tower of Brooklyn’.
As we walked back along the boardwalk, we were greeted by a surprise and discovered the ball park used by the Brooklyn Cyclones baseball team. The ballpark was smaller than I expected but was a sight to see nonetheless.
By this time we were feeling a little thirsty so we decided that a drink was in order. We had earlier passed a bar called A Place to Beach and decided that it was cocktail time. As is quite often the case when Dawn and I visit the US we found ourselves talking to a native. She had heard our English accents and since one of her relatives lived in the UK she felt the urge to talk to us to see if we knew her friend; we didn’t. Her friend lived in Sheffield which is over 100 miles from where we live but as you know England is a small country and we all know each other!
Despite that fact that we had eaten a largish breakfast we felt that we couldn’t leave Coney Island without visiting Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs. Visiting Nathan’s was one of Dawn’s reasons for visiting Coney Island, we had been given a buy one get one free coupon each earlier in the day and as we only wanted one hot dog each we gifted the other coupon to a couple in the line who didn’t have one. (Our good deed for the day).
Whilst I admit that unless you are visiting the fairground, the aquarium or the ball park. There really isn’t a huge amount to see, however there plenty of bars and restaurants and of course the beach. Dawn and I had a really good day and I would definitely visit again.
Do you like beach resorts or do you think that they should relegated to the past?