coney island is a very special place lining brooklyn’s seashore, and sadly, it has been on the decline for a while. the city’s approach to redevelopment so far has resulted in the closing of many smaller amusements that used to line the boardwalk (astroland shut last summer for example) with the hope that there will be big redevelopment complete with huge hotels and towering residential condos. the city claims they want to maintain the amusements, but many fear (like the group save coney island) that the result will be a soulless, corporate-type theme park rather than something that reflects coney island’s unique history and character. this past week, the city planning commission approved a rezoning which shrinks the amusement areas (from 60 acres to 12) which is a key step toward making the redevelopment happen but not in the way many of us would like.
but for now, coney island’s boardwalk still has a bit of the feel from its early successes like dreamland and luna park, so it’s definitely worth a trip to visit what’s left of the amusements like deno’s wonder wheel, nathan’s hotdogs, and even a small sideshow area. see this newsday article for a more definitive list and i’ve highlighted a few. the coney island neighborhood also has a few good food options, but as for shopping (at least the kind that i like to do) as far as i can tell there is not much of it. now granted, i have not been out there in a while but based on what little the research surfaced i think you’re best bet is to trot out for some rides and fun, and some really amazing turkish food.
the cyclone: running since 1927, this rickety and great little roller coaster is still going. though it’s small, it gives a great ride. open daily in the summer. 834 surf avenue off the boardwalk between west 8th and 12th streets, brooklyn, new york, 718.265.2100.
the brooklyn cyclones: located just off the coney island boardwalk, this minor league team has a great little park, lots of accessible, affordable games, and their opening night is tonight. 1905 surf avenue at 19th street, brooklyn, new york, 718.449.8497.
coney island museum:just a small upstart, the museum has dedicated itself to the history of coney island, and is filled with all sorts of coney island paraphernalia. open every weekend, they offer coney island-centric lectures sunday afternoons. for more on the history of the museum and it’s current director listen to hey brooklyn’s podcast here. 1208 surf avenue near west 12th street, brooklyn, new york, 718.372.5159.
ringling bros. and barnum & bailey circus: they are hosting their latest show out on the boardwalk this summer which is called the “coney island boom a ring.” i have yet to see one of their circuses, so i have no idea how it will be, but if you don’t mind elephants in the acts (i’m on the fence), this might be fun too and i know that k already wants to go so i might have to relent. between the boardwalk and surf avenue, between 20th and 21st streets, from june 17 to sept. 7, 2009.
taci beyci: this affordable restaurant got amazing raves on chowhound and yelp for turkish treats like sigari (phyllo wrapped cheese), freshly baked bread, succulent shish kebabs and turkish-style grape leaves. i really must try this place out. 1955 coney island avenue between avenue p and quentin road, brooklyn, new york, 718.627.5750.
gulluoglu: a spinoff of an istanbul bakery, this spot’s highlights seem to be su borek (a delicious looking phyllo cheese item), baklava (with more than 12 kinds) and multiple puddings, another apparent turkish specialty – i obviously know nothing of turkish cuisine but it is time to start. 1985 coney island avenue between avenue p and avenue q, brooklyn, new york, 718.645.1822.
totonno’s pizzeria napolitano: closed by a terrible fire in march, the word from slice is that it will open in mid-july — hopefully that’s true as it really seems like a must try pizza spot to add to my very long pizza list. 1524 neptune avenue near 15th street, brooklyn, new york, 718.372.8606.