It is hard to find a soul in the United States older than 50 that doesn’t have some memory of Coney Island, or has heard the term used to describe either some sort of food, or the famous park itself. New York, well, Brooklyn – can be proud to have someone so thoughtful to bring to this community some outlet of entertainment that was free to minimally affordable through years when this country had a hard time rubbing two nickles together. It took the stress off of millions of Americans and other nationalities that visited its wonderful and amazing displays. The beach, yes, the beach – isn’t bad at all and still enjoyed by millions each year.
Many don’t realize that Coney Island is a peninsula. Still more think Coney Island refers only to the famous amusement park. But the community of Coney Island is 60,000 people strong and is in the southernmost part of Brooklyn, New York.
In the northern United States and facing the Atlantic Ocean, Coney Island was once a major resort. But after World War II, people had more disposable income and ventured farther south, like Miami Beach, and Coney Island suffered many years of neglect. Recently, KeySpan Park opened nearby – a minor-league baseball field, which draws more interest to Coney Island.
The island supposedly got its name from the thousands of rabbits that once inhabited the place. Coney is derived from the Dutch word for rabbit. But after the Civil War, Coney Island was a stopping place for the railroads and ship. Soon the area was covered with hotels and amusement parks. Around the beginning of World War II, Coney Island was the biggest amusement park in the United States.
The beach area is large running from West 37th to Manhattan Beach – around 2 1/2 miles. This barrier island used to be loamy flats and we found the sand to be of a high clay content. The sand is quite dark due to the rock/loam origin. In addition, in some areas during the summer months, we found quite a bit of trash both floating in the water and on the beach.
A few times a week New York City grooms the beach and when necessary, the sand is replenished. So, there are few small rocks within the sand, and when walking out in the water, the bottom is mostly flat and has that sand/silt feel.
On our next visit, we’ll take a look at a few other aspects of Coney Island Beach in New York.