Friday, April 1, 2011

Coney Island Girl

On our last day in NYC we decided to visit the famous Coney Island. I was so excited about seeing the boardwalk and the amusements, and even more excited as it was still wintery and I hoped for a romantic windswept walk along the oceans edge. I had read Just Kids by Patti Smith right before coming out to New York and I loved the photo of her and Robert in their crazy outfits standing on the boardwalk. She has a great description of coming out of the subway tunnel and arriving in Coney Island and I had been envisioning myself making the same journey with my significant other.

Some say that the name for Coney Island may have come from the Irish (Gaelic) for rabbit which is coinín. Ireland has many islands named Coney Island. Some claim that an Irish captain named Peter O'Connor had, in the 18th century, named Coney Island after an island (Inishmulclohy) in County Sligo, Ireland. There ya go!

When we got there the first thing we saw was Nathan’s Famous, so of course we had to go in…well, I told Mr. P. he had to have one of the famous hot dogs and he did not protest too much! (I’m a veggie so it was cheesy fries for me).

We headed off from there to the boardwalk. It was almost completely deserted. The wind was roaring through the amusement parks and howling along the beach, the grey sky was looming low over us and the atmosphere was eerie. We wandered around and enjoyed the wonderful light and the relics of a glorious past, where generations of people enjoyed summers filled with fun and happy memories.

Later with the sun going down the sky turned pink and highlighted the derelict beauty of Coney Island and one of its landmark rides, the Parachute Jump (inactive since 1968). This ride is nicknamed Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower.

In the half light we found the famous Cyclone rollercoaster which is protected as a designated NYC landmark and listed in the National Register of Historic Places. I loved the sign at the very top of the ride which warns patrons to remain seated!!! Were there really people crazy enough to stand on this ride?

On one of the information boards I read that there had been a hotel shaped liked an elephant on Coney Island in the 1800’s. Apparently the trunk held the main staircase and there were spiral stairs in the 4 legs, with accomodation being in the body of the elephant! I just thought it looked so cool so I wanted to share a photo of it with you…


So, while Coney Island in the winter may not be for everyone, we loved it and enjoyed spending our last day in New York imagining it in it’s heyday.

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