12. The Lost Coney Island Velodrome
If you read our piece on the Kissena Velodrome, you’d know that it is the only remaining bicycle racing track in New York. However, there used to be another on Coney Island, next to the BMT rail terminal at Neptune Avenue and West 12th Street. It was oval-shaped, just 1/8th of a mile, and had seating for 10,000 spectators. But it wasn’t just a site for bicycle racing; the venue hosted a wide array of sporting games and matches, like football, boxing, and motorcycling. In 1930, a fire destroyed the velodrome, but it was rebuilt. Its last event took place in 1950 when it was demolished to make way for housing.
Another bit of bike history is that the first bike path in America, which runs five miles along Ocean Parkway and is still a popular bike path today, was actually built in 1894 to connect Coney Island to Prospect Park. Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who were inspired by Europe’s large boulevards, designed it in the 1860s and it is now a historic landmark (though Ocean Parkway no longer directly connects to Prospect Park). At its opening, cyclists were limited to a speed of 12 miles per hour on the path and 10 miles per hour on the parkway.