The Dutch arrived in the 1600’s and began establishing colonies and farming communities near Coney Island. Native American Indians, however, used to collect clams and snails along the beaches there long before that. So, it makes sense that in 1829 the first road to connect Coney Island (which in those days was an actual island) was called Shell Road. Not part of New York City then, the area quickly became a popular seaside getaway.

Coney Island is famous for its amusement park rides. The Cylone, opened in 1927, is one of the world’s most famous. America’s very first roller coaster, based on a Pennsylvania coal mining track, was built there in 1884. Until 1964, The Parachute Jump would pull patrons more than 200 feet in the air and drop them to the ground with a parachute. The imposing structure still remains like a giant steel flower on the beach.

In 1871, Charles Fentman, a German immigrant got the idea to to sell sausages in long rolls that made them easy to carry around the beach. Thus began Coney Island’s long love affair with hot dogs. (Although in 1913 the Coney Island Chamber of Commerce banned the use of the term “hot dog” — concerned that visitors would think it was dog meat!). Today, the annual July 4th hot dog eating contest attracts thousands of spectators and over 1 million viewers on television.

Coney Island is an iconic summer attraction full of fascinating history. Join NYEA for the Mermaid Parade on June 25th to see what it’s all about.

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