Coney Island Boardwalk

A sud-ovest di Brooklyn, sulla penisola di Coney Island e a soli 45 minuti in metro dal trambusto di Manhattan, si estende questa passeggiata con un’antica passerella di legno, dove sia i newyorkesi sia i turisti possono divertirsi al luna park, o rilassarsi davanti al mare.

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Stretching 2.7 miles along the southern shore of Coney Island, a peninsular neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, the Riegelmann Boardwalk (also known as the Coney Island Boardwalk) is a famous seafront promenade. It opened in 1923 and was named after Edward J. Riegelmann, the Brooklyn borough president who was among the promoters of the project.

The boardwalk runs between West 37th Street to the west and Brighton 15th Street to the east. It ends in Brighton Beach, a neighbourhood nicknamed Little Odessa after Odesa, the Ukrainian port city that came to symbolise mass immigration of mainly Ashkenazi Jews from the Soviet Union in the first half of the 20th century.

The wooden planks of the boardwalk are always full of people, walking, exercising, enjoying  some food or just taking in the buzzing atmosphere of the area. Families and friends gather to go to the beach, enjoy the rides at the amusement parks, or sit on benches to feel the ocean breeze.

LANDMARKS

Strolling along, one comes across different attractions, including three amusement parks, an aquarium and a pier. There is the peculiar Ford Amphitheatre, which went from being a restaurant to a candy factory to currently functioning as a five-thousand-seat outdoor entertainment venue that hosts important music events.

An indoor ice skating rink called Abe Stark Recreation Center was built in 1970, and the Parachute Jump is one of the peninsula’s most famous landmarks. Built in 1939 at the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens for the New York World Fair, it has not been used since 1968, but remains an iconic structure.

AMUSEMENT PARK

While the Riegelmann Boardwalk is open all year around, its amusement area is seasonal,  running from April to September. The original Luna Park Amusement Park was active from 1903 to 1944, when a fire destroyed it. Deno’s Wonder Wheel was built in 1989 and the entire wooden roller coaster, Cyclone, was built in 1927 and recently refurbished.

Another site worth visiting is the oldest aquarium in the United States, which was founded in 1896 at Battery Park, Manhattan and later moved to Coney Island in 1957.

 

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ANNIVERSARY

Multiple popular movies have been set on Coney Island, including The Warriors, Requiem for a Dream and Woody Allen’s Wonder Wheel. To celebrate its 100th anniversary, the Coney Island History Project has organised an exhibition telling the story of the Riegelmann Boardwalk, how it was built and its impact on the community. Although now it is still awaiting a much-needed renovation, at the time of its construction it was worth $3 million and was the epicentre of New York City entertainment. Today, it is a place where one can still sit on the original benches under the light of black twin lamps similar to those on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

FOOD FUN

There are multiple historic restaurants in the area. Tom’s Coney Island or Paul’s Daughter are among the most popular. However, the most crowded place on the boardwalk is Nathan’s Famous hot dog: open all year around, the original Nathan’s Famous hot dog place was founded in 1916. Every year since 1972, it has hosted a hot dog eating contest on the 4th of July. This year the winners were defending champion Joey Chestnut, who ate sixty-two hot dogs in ten minutes, and by Miki Sudo, who ate thirty-nine and a half hot dogs.

 

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Questo articolo appartiene al numero settembre 2023 della rivista Speak Up.

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