Many elderly Russian-Americans walk along the Coney Island boardwalk.
Coney Island is an community of about 60,000 people on the Atlantic shore of Brooklyn, New York. Formerly almost an actual island, connected by tidal flats, which were filled in by landfill after the Civil War. The western end is actually a peninsula, with a neighborhood called Seagate at the end. Seagate is New York City's only neighborhood where the streets are owned by the residents and not the city; it is cordoned off by a fence and gate houses.
Coney Island is about 2 miles long, but less than 1000 feet wide in most places. Its subway station is called Stillwell Avenue and can be reached by the W train of the New York City subway system (The F, N and Q trains are currently not operating to this station due to renovation). Its three main avenues, running east to west are: Neptune Ave., Mermaid Ave. and Seagate Ave. The cross streets are called "Beach 1st Street, Beach 2nd Street, Beach 3rd Street and so on up until Beach 28th Street at the western end.
Beginning with the period after the Civil War, Coney Island became a resort, as trolley lines began to reach the area in the 1870s. With the trolleys and access to the beach came amusement parks and public beaches. Some argue that the world's longest boardwalk runs along the beach.
The famous 1950s song "Under the Boardwalk" is about Coney Island.
Nathan's Famous Hotdog Stand is located on Coney Island.
Linguistically Coney Island is still an island: one is said to be "on" the island, not "in" Coney Island.
The Polar Bear Club, whose members like to swim in the winter, first met at Coney Island.
Between about 1880 and World War II, Coney Island was the largest amusement park in the United States, attracting several million visitors per year. It was finally eclipsed by Disneyland in California. While most of the amusement parks have long since closed down, several remain for New Yorkers who come to visit the boardwalk, swim and sunbath on the Coney Island beach.
The amusement area contains various rides, games such as skeeball, and a sideshow, games of shooting and throwing and tossing skills. In its hayday record setting Coney Island rides (as the first of their kind or largest) were:
The Wonder Wheel and Astroland Park as seen from the Coney Island Beach.''
- Wonder Wheel, a huge ferris wheel,
- The Cyclone roller coaster, which some claim is still the world's largest wooden roller coaster.
- Parachute Jump, which was the first ride of it's kind. Patrons were hoisted some 190 feet in the air before being allowed to drop using guy-wired parachutes.
- Bumper cars, which are small vehicles with rubber bumpers all the way around, which ride on a flat metal surface, and are powered by electricity conducted by a pole standing upright from the back of the car and touching an electrified ceiling. The object is to bump other cars. The idea for demolition derbies is said to have originated from bumper cars.
The majority of the population of Coney Island resides in approximately thirty 18 to 24 story towers, mostly comprised of various forms of public housing. In between the towers are many blocks that are filled with burned out and vacant buildings.