It’s been well over two decades since I ventured down to Coney Island. I asked my mother and her last memory of the family heading down there was a visit to the Aquarium. That would definitely be elementary school, and I’m almost certain it was no later than the third grade. So yes, many, many years.
I took the subway down there on Sunday, intending to visit a pop-up crafts market last weekend. An hour on the trains till I reached the end of the line, stepping out of the carriage with tourists, who were the only other passengers I could see. It was a cool and cloudy day and once I started down Stillwell Avenue the first sight that greeted me was the very large (and original) Nathan’s hot dog stand.
There’s been a lot of development in Coney Island but at least some things never change. My recollections of the beach and boardwalk are fuzzy at best so I felt very much like a tourist walking around the area. The craft market was in a large lot that currently hosts one version of Smorgasborg but it was early when I got there and the food stalls weren’t open. As for the craft vendors, there were less than a dozen of them and not very interesting to me, unfortunately. But since I made the journey down, I decided to head to the beach and the water.
The boardwalk separates the amusement parks from the beach. A few of the rides were open early and there weren’t many people on the beach yet. There were plenty of people strolling along the boardwalk though: families, tourists, joggers and fishermen. I really enjoyed the sight of an empty beach and despite inappropriate shoes (I wore flats), I made my way to the sea. There are jetties along the shore and sometimes, one could see gulls perched on the rocks. It was very bright and the sun peeked out through the clouds every once in a while, and the sea just sparkled. It was really lovely.
And for those of us who wanted to get closer to the ocean but not get wet, the pier was a good place to go. Alas that all the good spots were taken by many, many fishermen who leaned their poles all along the rails hoping that something would bite. It was a bit annoying not to reach the every end of the pier but I made do and so did all the other visitors who were to admire the sights and not fish. Also of note was that one one side of the pier was the cloudy beach and sea; on the other a view of nearby apartment towers edging towards the bright blue waters and clearing skies.
By the time I was ready to leave, things were beginning to come to life. It was lunchtime, some of the boardwalk eateries were open for business and Luna Park was finally letting people inside to play or ride. Coney Island was coming to life once more.