In 1625, the land stretching from Sheepshead Bay to Sea Gate was sold to Dutch settlers for the bargain price of a gun, a blanket, and a kettle.
Originally a cluster of small islands, Coney Island didn’t form into the land mass it is today until then late 1700s, when shifting sand bodies had connected the islands.
The original inhabitants of Coney Island, the Lenape tribe, referred to the area as Narrioch, or “the place without shade”.
In the 1830’s, when the first structures were being developed, there was some public opposition to developing Coney Island. It was argued that the land should be kept as a natural park.
Coney Island had become the largest amusement area in the United States in the early 1900s and held that position through the end of World War II with world’s fair-style structures like the Parachute Jump and the Wonder Wheel. Coney Island eventually lost the title to Disneyland in California.
In a way, Nathan’s Famous owes some of its success to the Great Depression. During the Depression, Nathan’s Hot Dogs were preferable to that of its competitor–Feltmans, who is often credited with inventing the hot dog–because of their low cost; so much so that Feltmans had to close down.
In the 1940s, when the Parachute Jump was operational, ride operators would convince young women whom they perceived to be “screamers” to get on the ride. In an effort to attract more riders, the operators would keep the women suspended in the air, using the screams as advertisement.
The Coney Island Cyclone is the successor to the Switchback railway, the original occupant of the corner of West 10th Street and Surf Avenue. With two parallel tracks, 600-feet long, the Switchback Railway carried riders from one end to the other, where the riders would have to climb a tower as the coaster was switched to the second track for the return trip.
Notorious gangster, Al Capone got his facial scars as a teenager, while working at the Harvard Inn on Bowery Street in the middle the Coney Island Amusement Area. Allegedly, the fight that had ended with Capone’s face being slashed three times, had begun because of Capone’s It persistent attempts to court an uninterested woman.
The Coney Island Mermaid Parade pays homage to the Coney Island Mardi Gras, which was celebrated from 1903-1954.
Prior to becoming a resort destination in the 1800s, Coney Island was overrun with rabbits and rabbit hunting was common until the development began. It is said that the island was named for this reason, with Dutch settlers, referring to it as Conyne Eylandt, and name that resembled the “conyn”, the Dutch word for rabbit.
Prior to development, Coney Island had a woodland landscape and was largely uninhabited. It was used by colonists as grazing land for their livestock.