Luna Park and Surf Avenue in 1912. Image via Wikimedia Commons
While theme parks like Disneyland, Universal Studios, and Six Flags are known for having some of the biggest rides and for being the epitomes of technological advancement, an approximately four-mile long peninsula in south Brooklyn helped pioneer all of this: Coney Island.
Coney Island, once called nicknames like “Nickel Empire,” “America’s Playground,” “Sodom By the Sea,” “Electric Eden,” and “Poor Man’s Paradise,” is much more than its entertainment side. Millions of tourists venture out here all the time, but most don’t realize the tremendous social, technological and economic impacts Coney Island has had on areas even outside of New York City. It was hard to narrow down Coney Island’s top secrets, but here are the most interesting ones we felt you should know about.
The Coney Island Beach on a summer day. Image via Wikimedia Commons user Kris Arnold
The name “Coney Island” isn’t recent at all: in fact, it goes back to around the mid-1600s, which was a bit after Dutch explorer Henry Hudson came across Coney Island in its barren state. The Lenape tribes knew the island as “the land without shadows,” but the Dutch soon renamed it Konijnen Eiland, or “Rabbit Island,” since there was presumably a large rabbit population along its sandy coastlines. There are other theories regarding Coney Island’s name origin, but this is the most popular.