Category Archives: coney island

Coney Island in the Off-Season

I have a confession to make: I’ve never been to Coney Island in the height of summer, when crowds swarm the sunny boardwalk and beach. All my visits have been in winter, when most everything is closed and the rides are still. This is partly because I hate the heat, but mostly because I love how weird Coney Island is when the actual amusement park is shut down. It makes it so much stranger, makes it more like I’m traveling to another time and place when I get off the train.

Recently, friends Bron and Mark were visiting from Melbourne and we went on a photography adventure to Coney Island. Here are some of my photos:

Coney Island Afternoon

Cyclone roller coaster at Coney Island.

Despite the current rather cold and dreary weather, I believe it was the opening day for Coney Island. Recently, my friend Randall came to visit New York and we took the train down to Coney Island on another somewhat chilly, off-season afternoon. Despite the closed rides and sharp ocean wind, it was entertaining as always to walk along the boardwalk and see the derelict old buildings on Surf Avenue (a couple fewer than when I’d last been, the destruction continues).

I love taking photographs at Coney Island, especially when it is quiet and somewhat empty. It’s always eerie to be around amusement parks or other places where people gather and scream when they are vacant. Noise seems to linger in the calm air. I was actually at Coney Island last Saturday night (for an Obscura Day event in the “Spectacularium,” wow, did I spell that right?) and it was even more strange to see the Cyclone looming in the dark, the only lights blinking from a randomly opened bumper car rink, the rumble of the train instead of the roller coaster. But here is some sunlight:

Hot air balloon ride, with the Wonder Wheel behind it. Id like to see this whimsical thing in action.

Steeplechase Pier over the Atlantic.

Seagull at the pier with the rides in the background.

Pier Pigeon

(By the way, I probably won’t have time to write about my Obscura Day Brooklyn catacombs event for a while, as I’m going on an international adventure this week, but you can see photos I took here. Also, other things that have been awesome that I might not have time to write about, but want to remember: Angels in America at Signature Theatre, Radiotheatre’s H.P. Lovecraft stories, the way the fog settles on the Empire State Building, the promising sound of the coffee maker that is bringing me away from my computer now.)

Brooklyn Core to Shore

A rabbit with a chainsaw takes on Taranchuula in East Williamsburg.

Last weekend, my parents came to visit and I decided to show them the sites of Brooklyn on their first day in the city. Unfortunately, it was one of the coldest winter days we’ve had yet, but we still got around to an amazing amount of sights. Also, I’m just going to tack on the day before when I went up to East Williamsburg (Bushwick? neighborhood lines are confusing to me) to the 3rd Ward Holiday Craft Fair where a friend was selling her jewelry. (It is very cool stuff made from denim and other fabrics, check it out here: J-Flo/KWILTI.)

Tinsel and ornaments thrown over some barbed wire in East Williamsburg.

I had a whiskey and with delicious Red Jacket Orchards cider and walked around the area to see some of the interesting street art, like the pasteup of the Rabbit vs. Taranchuula above. I also enjoyed this effort at making the barbed wire on a fence a little more festive for the holidays.

Vendors at the Brooklyn Flea

Now back to my parents’ first visiting day, which started with coffee and a walk through Park Slope and then over to the Brooklyn Flea. We looked at the trinkets and curios being sold in the beautiful Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower and then got Salvadoran pupusas from one of the Red Hook food vendors that work out of the old bank vault.

Angel in Green-Wood Cemetery, gesturing to Manhattan.

We then took the train down to my neighborhood to see my apartment and warm up for a little while before walking over to Green-Wood Cemetery. With all the leaves off the trees, there are even more stunning views of Manhattan. From Battle Hill, we looked from the Minerva statue facing the Statue of Liberty out to the harbor.

Coney Island clams, such gentlemen.

From there, we took the train down to Coney Island, where a bitterly cold wind was blowing off the ocean. Most everything was closed (except for Nathan’s), but we still saw most of the Boardwalk and walked by the Cyclone and Wonder Wheel.

Goodbye, Coney Island Bank.

I was sad to see that the Coney Island Bank, which had been in the process of being demolished last time I was there, was completely destroyed. You can see the beautiful stonework that was lost on this Scouting NY post from April.

Save Coney Island mural on Ruby's.

There were some colorful, and hopeful, murals painted on the shutters of Ruby’s on the Boardwalk. It is one of many businesses that is having its lease revoked. I recently wrote about the closures in this Atlas Obscura post: Coney Island is Dying.

Winter sunset on the Boardwalk, looking towards the Parachute Jump.

Although everything was closed, there were quite a few people out taking pictures, maybe capturing what might be lost before next summer. You know I have never actually been to Coney Island in its summer peak. I kind of prefer it in winter, without crowds, with just the year-round characters and soft light. After we could no longer take the cold, we ate delicious, but unhealthy, samplings of the traditional Coney Island foods. (Cheese fries.)

Manhattan Bridge from DUMBO.

By the time we got off the train in DUMBO, the sun had set and the Manhattan Bridge was lit by its necklace of lights. We walked down to the water to see the skyline of Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge, lights glancing off the freezing water.