New York Minute: Classic Coney Island

I know, I know: another post about the beach?! But who can resist quirky Coney Island?

In August, the Coney Island History Project held a ceremony to celebrate the return of the Astroland rocket to Coney. The rocket was once a main attraction at Astroland, a futuristic theme park that opened in 1962. At the time, the rocket was unusual and exciting ride. Visitors took their seats inside the rocket before it began to shake roughly; at the same time, a television screen inside the rocket played a film about space travel.

The ceremony smacked of the same restless hope that helped to shape the 1960s in America. In a way, that’s what is so wonderful about Coney Island. Visiting Coney Island’s boardwalk feels a little like taking a trip back in time. Luna Park, Astroland’s successor, may be updating the rides (check out that slick orange roller coaster in the slideshow), but nostalgia prevails in this zip code. Decades-old traditions, like riding the rickety Cyclone roller coaster or having lunch at Nathan’s, are still alive and well. Even the gastronomically-questionable Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, which dates back to 1972, remains a American tradition.

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