Coney Island Without the Crowds
Tuesday 10/3, Run #59: Coney Island & Gravesend
Distance: 7.86 miles
Weather: partly cloudy
click on image for interactive map
Unique Miles Today: 5.45
Total Unique Miles: 472.07
Percent of Brooklyn Run: 27.09
Route: Today I started at W. 8th and Neptune, headed west to W. 12th, south to Surf Avenue, west to Stillwell Avenue, north back to Neptune, west to W. 15th, north to Hart, west to W. 16th, south to Neptune but doubling back to Hart, west to Cropsey Avenue, north across the bridge over the Belt Parkway to Avenue Z, east to W. 16th, south to Shore, east to Stillwell Avenue and then doubling back to W. 15th, north back to Avenue Z, east to Stillwell Avenue, north to W. 15th Place, west to W. 15th Street, south to Avenue Z, west to W. 16th, north to Bay 50th, west to W. 17th, south to Avenue Z, then west back to Cropsey and south back over the bridge to Bay 53rd, west to W. 22nd, north to Bay 52nd and doubling back south to Bay 56th, which curves around to Bay 54th, which I ran west on then doubled back to Cropsey. After that it was south back to Neptune Avenue, east to W. 15th, south to Surf Avenue, west to W. 16th, north back to Neptune, west to W. 17th, south back to Surf, west to W. 19th, north to Neptune, west to W. 21st, south to Surf, west to W. 22nd, south to the boardwalk (including a quick out-and-back on Highland View Avenue), east to W. 21st, north to Surf, east to W. 16th, south to the boardwalk, east to W. 15th, north to Surf, east to Schweikerts Walk, south to Bowery Street, west to W. 15th then doubling back east to Stillwell, north to Surf, east to Henderson Walk, south back to Bowery Street, west to Stillwell, south to the boardwalk again, east to W. 12th, north to Bowery, west back to Henderson Walk, north to Surf, east to W. 12th, south to Bowery, east to Jones Walk, north to Surf, east to W. 10th, south to the boardwalk, east to W. 8th, and north back to Surf Avenue.
Notes: Coney Island is a strange place, I think, a place where kitsch and history and ugliness and odd beauty exist side by side right along the ocean, and where the both the best and worst aspects of capitalism and urban life and American culture are all there in a gaudy neon display. This impression is compounded by visiting the neighborhood at 8:30 on a weekday morning in October, when being there gives you that same slightly unsettling feeling you get in a church on a Tuesday afternoon, say, or a school building on the weekend. That's how I felt today, where the throngs of New Yorkers that pack the boardwalk and amusement park during warm summer evenings were long gone and the place was kind of like a surreal ghost town, though with food wrappers and paper coffee cups scuttling across mostly-empty streets instead of tumbleweeds. That said, it is also an intensely interesting place, and one that -- as with many neighborhoods in Brooklyn, it would seem -- is at a crossroads between past and present, between sometimes inscrutable local color and future megadevelopment. Whatever Coney Island was or will be, though, right now there's an awful lot to look at and enjoy. And that's what I did on today's run, on a pleasant and fairly warm morning. It was a relatively short affair (only an hour!), and included a lot of repeat miles, but it was also one of the most enjoyable runs I've had in a while. I wish they could all be like this.
Anyway, for a terrific look at the past and present state of Coney, check out Kevin Walsh's Forgotten New York pages dedicated to the neighborhood. And for a look of what might be in Coney Island's future, read this August 3rd piece from Curbed.
Finally, as always, we've got pictures. I've included a few extra today, since there was so much to see.
P.S. 90 on W. 12th Street
The rusting hull of an old boat in Coney Island Creek
One of the rides, off Bowery Street
Off of W. 15th Street
In a vacant lot on Bay 54th Street
On the boardwalk
King Neptune, on the old Child's restaurant building on the boardwalk