Next stop: Coney Island

Eager to escape Manhattan at the peak of summer, my friend and I decided a full-fledged beach day was in short order. A quick jaunt over on the subway and we were in Coney Island, America’s “People’s Playground” in Brooklyn, NY.

A stop at Nathan’s Famous is an American tradition that must not be missed so we nabbed a couple of their signature bacon cheeseburgers and crinkled fries and made our way through the obstacle course of beachgoers to a breezy spot by the water’s edge.

The boardwalk is lined with eateries and other attractions. No amusement park rides for us (those particular thrills ceased to wow me years ago) but seeing them again does take you back. I don’t really know what I was expecting to see in Coney Island but it was more along the lines of circus freaks and other outrageous types strolling about, hot dog eating contests, and multitudes of children shrieking with unbridled enthusiasm. It was a little tamer on this day.

Once a thriving entertainment destination, Coney Island is now but a shadow of its former self. Much of it is slated for redevelopment, and many of its historic buildings are threatened with demolition. There is a strong effort by preservationist groups and the like calling for their safeguarding, citing economic incentives for the rehabilitation of these unique structures. It’s interesting to imagine what they could become if they were preserved, restored and reused…

I’d like to return to Coney Island in the wintertime, to behold the sweeping calm of the beach and ocean and, while walking the empty boardwalk, to search for traces of its former glory.

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