Explaining Coney Island to the rest of the world

It’s that time of year to learn more about the history of one of America’s biggest playgrounds, Coney Island! Great post by Ephemeral New York.

Ephemeral New York

Much has been written about Coney Island, once just a thread of sandy beach supposedly named for its rabbit population (konij is Dutch for rabbit).

By the 1880s, of course, this little outpost had become Sodom by the Sea—a tawdry playground of hotels, pavilions, dime museums, freak shows, amusement parks, exotic animals, and more, all bathed in thousands of colored lights.

Coneyislandny3d

The phenomenon that was Coney Island attracted hordes of working class New Yorkers as well as foreign journalists, who wrote articles attempting to explain Coney to curious readers outside New York City.

Lunapark1906These articles serve as an illuminating look at the spectacle that rose out of the sand in just a few short post-Civil War decades.

“Coney Island, one of the great resorts for the million, is reached from the foot of 23rd Street in about an hour,” wrote English novelist Mary Duffus Hardy in…

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Brooklyn: A State of mind – 125 original stories from America’s most colorful City.

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Brooklyn: A State of Mind is a terrific book. It features an eclectic smorgasbord of essays, articles, interviews, art and photographs about the most beloved and often misunderstood City in America. Maybe even the world? Unfortunately, most stories are not centered on 19th Century Brooklyn, but there are a smattering of facts, images, and points of interest in different chapters which point to that era.

The consensus of many baby boomers seems to be that Brooklyn had its “heyday” in the early to mid-Twentieth Century. For more on that, read this cool book: When Brooklyn was the world: 1920-1957. A book that cleverly argues that the ‘real’ Brooklyn kinda, sorta, ceased to exist once the suburbs of Jersey and Long Island started popping up.

Brooklyn, A state of mind…boasts stories from actors, novelists, journalists, politicians, photographers, and artists. Their witty, gritty, and fun memories can evoke homesickness and nostalgia in a non-native Brooklynite. Their stories touch on everything from food, big hair, Coney Island, music, gangsters, ethnic communities and culture, children’s games, summer days and nights, wise guys, tough guys, and everyone in between. Memories, whether they are fond or foul, are jammed into each story. I highly recommend it for any Brooklyn lover’s collection.