In the early days, Coney Island was a mix of beach resorts, inventive and exciting engineering, and burlesque ambiance. Today the vibe of Coney Island is indescribable as it has become like the gefilte fish of its own bygone times and cultures
Coney Island’s first resort opened in 1824. By the 1870’s transportation via waterway and rail increased tourism in the area. As the subway lines were created lower class tenement dwellers could take a day trip to Coney Island for only 5 cents.
In the 1930s Robert Moses at that time the city parks commissioner made an effort to reduce the sleazy hype around the area and increase the natural beauty of the beaches. By the 1960’s high rise tenements replaced the bungalows around the area. They were soon filled with black and Puerto Rican lower income populations.
Coney Island today wears an artifact from every one of its time periods. The outmoded beach resorts and decrepit amusement rides are covered by the remnants of drugs, violence, and gangs from one of Coney’s scariest times, the early 90’s.
Many organizations are trying to revive the culture and art in the neighborhood, but there is an unsurpassable eeriness that exists there. The boardwalk is scattered with European tourists, elder bronzing aficionados, and unsettling frequenters of the area. The ride operators are unenthused to be working the rusty machinery. Stray cats run out from under the children’s rides, while men working the bumper cars rap into their microphones rather than explain the safety guidelines.
Coney Island was once apparently a quintessential American experience, but today it is worth seeing only if you strive for the “heebie Jeebies”, an extra long train ride, or a trip to a dirty bathroom. It is a sad reminder of what happens when a New York neighborhood gets left behind.