3. Coney Island Beach
Coney Island Beach sits adjacent to Brighton Beach and is perhaps New York’s most famous waterfront area. Known for its iconic boardwalk, amusement park rides like the Cyclone, and MCU Park, the Brooklyn beach attracts thousands of tourists and locals each year. The boardwalk is also home to a number of shops and restaurants, including Nathan’s Famous, Paul’s Daughter, and Tom’s. In addition to the 2.7-mile-long Riegelmann Boardwalk, Coney Island also includes several public parks like Coney Island Creek Park and nearby Leon S. Kaiser Park.
Although it is now connected to the rest of Brooklyn by landfill, Coney Island was a barrier island originally known as Coney Island in the town of Gravesend. The island remained mostly uninhabited until the 1800s, serving as a site for cattle, horses, and oxen. Supposedly, Herman Melville wrote Moby-Dick while on Coney Island in 1849. By the late 1800s, Coney Island rapidly developed into a resort area with easy access to the rest of the city via numerous railways and streetcars.
Three competing major amusement parks—Luna Park, Dreamland, and Steeplechase Park, opened from 1897 to 1904, which attracted millions of visitors each year. The iconic Wonder Wheel opened in 1920, while the Coney Island Cyclone began operating in 1927. Robert Moses was responsible for renovating many sites on Coney Island, as well as reconstructing part of the boardwalk and adding parking lots. By the 1980s, Coney Island Beach saw a major revival especially after a decade of increased crime and deterioration of many sites, and a number of new construction projects like residential units, hotels, and a redeveloped ice rink have been underway in 2020.