New York’s beachgoers today know and love Coney Island, but not everyone knows that there’s a museum devoted to its history and heritage right off the boardwalk, offering not only a welcome respite from the summer sun but also a glimpse into an era of beach-going that was quite different from our own.
The Coney Island Museum, housed on the second floor of a century-old landmarked headquarters on Surf Avenue, is dedicated to interpreting and preserving the history of the beachfront park that’s been a New York favorite for more than a century. Check out the crazy funhouse mirrors, rare “hold-to-light” postcards, vintage bumper cars, and a collection of objects and ephemera from Coney Island’s past, not to mention what is probably the largest assemblage of old fashioned thermoses and coolers ever scrounged from the world-famous beach.
Also currently on display is the “Five Cents to Dreamland” exhibit, on loan from the New York Transit Museum, which illustrates Coney Island’s history as “the People’s Playground.” The exhibition traces the historic evolution from simple clam shacks on the beach to the most famous amusement destination in the world; the calamitous fires and bureaucratic power struggles that almost caused the district’s demise; and it’s current rebirth and renaissance.
Know Before You Go
It is well-connected by public transit, and the D,N,F,Q trains to Stillwell Avenue can be used to get there.