The Final Morning

On my final morning in America, wanting to squeeze everything i could out of it and savor the exhilaration of exploration one more time – i boarded the train bound for Coney Island. Travelling south through Brooklyn, i passed the cemeteries of both people,

and cars

until coming to another relic of times gone by. Coney Island’s Theme Park. The glimpse of the Ferris Wheel was the first of many insights into the iconic area

An icon that continues to thrive today and is indigenous to Coney Island is Nathan’s Famous Hotdogs. Nathan’s Famous original hot dog stand opened on Coney Island in 1916 and quickly became a landmark.

An annual hot dog eating contest has been held there on July 4 since its opening, and has attracted increasingly broad attention and international television coverage during the last decade

I continued onwards towards the beach and couldn’t help but laugh at some of the stands – reminiscent of a less ‘politically correct’ America.

Coney Island is a peninsula, formerly an island, in southernmost Brooklyn, with a beach on the Atlantic Ocean. The neighborhood of the same name is a community of 60,000 people.
The area was a major resort and site of amusement parks that reached its peak in the early 20th century. It declined in popularity after World War II and endured years of neglect. Between about 1880 and World War II, Coney Island was the largest amusement area in the United States, attracting several million visitors per year.

Perhaps this couple is reminiscing about the ‘good old days’….

But all was not lost – a stroll along the broad-walk, reveals that the show continues to go on

A number of amusements (including various rides, games and a sideshow) are directly accessible from the land side of the boardwalk. As is the New York Aquarium and a variety of food shops and arcades.

Coney Island still maintains a broad sandy beach thats approximately 2½ miles (~4.0 km) and had a considerable number of people.

Whilst there were some youngsters here and there,

I could safely guess that 95% of the beach-goers were +60 yrs and enjoying their days of retirement

There were certainly some interesting characters around – it’s an INCREDIBLE spot for people watching

and it’s funny to see the what people most want to buy when here….

The neighborhoods on Coney Island, running eastward are Sea Gate (a private community), Coney Island proper, Brighton Beach, and Manhattan Beach. Once home to many Jewish residents, most of those living on Coney Island today are African American, Italian American, Hispanic and recent Russian and Ukrainian immigrants.

Brighton Beach in particular

is now known as “Little Russia” or Odessa

to the extent that most of the shop signs are even in Russian!

After having a good look around, i headed back from the station

To the northern part of Brooklyn, to spend my last few hours in the neighborhood i’d grown to love over the past 5 1/2 weeks of living there

Parts of it also have very distinct ethnic communities, like the Middle Eastern enclave along Atlantic Avenue

But i went French for my choice of lunch and had a delicious meal at the “Jolie Restaurant

before heading back to the apartment.

I had previously finalized my packing and farewelled my extremely generous hosts so was all set when i entered the airport bound taxi and commenced the long journey home! My travels had come to their inevitable end, but i was filled with excitement as opposed to the expected despair. I attribute this to the fact that it had been the most incredible 8 1/2 months of my life and i harbored absolutely no regrets. It also helped that i was returning to an incredible group of family and friends and many new and exciting things (like university and a new home) awaited.

But please don’t despair just yet, as this is not the final post. I hope to do a proper wrap up however this will be quite some time after i’ve settled into my new home at the Gold Coast in Australia. I want to leave enough time so that i can fully reflect in hindsight and do justice to the incredible travels that i’ve been so fortunate to experience.


1 Comment

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One response to “The Final Morning

  1. sally

    Your section on Coney Is reminded me of the Americam Impressionist’s exhibition at QAG. There was a painting of Coney Is in it’s hay day. It was packed with people and had a colourful and festive air.

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