Walk in NYC #17

Walk in NYC 17, Coney Island, Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay, is a 3 miles self-guided tour. It explores the legendary amusement park of New York, the district of “Little Odessa” and an old fishing community transformed into a residential district.

Highlights: The Thunderbolt, the B & B carousel, Luna Park, Coney Island Beach & Boardwalk, New York Aquarium, Brighton Beach, Ocean Avenue Pedestrian Bridge, Sheepshead Bay.

Metro: Coney Island- Stillwell Av Station on the lines B, D or F (start) and Sheepshead Bay Station on the lines Q or D (end).

Bus: use an app like Citymapper to find the best options with bus #, waiting time, list of stops, and where you are in the city once you’ve boarded. Your Metrocard or OMNY account will work and will be valid for transfers to the Metro and other buses. Express buses are more expensive, but you can buy your ticket at the stop. The drivers are generally very helpful!

Good to know: there are places to sit and restrooms along the beach; places to eat everywhere on the way, rather American at the start, or Russian later.

Although the walk itself only starts at Coney Island station, the journey to get there is an adventure in itself.

It takes you from the underbelly of Manhattan to the open air high up in Brooklyn suburb. You then have views of the flat roofs of the warehouses you ride along and of the graffities that decorate them. Gradually, the train empties and you wonder when you will finally reach your goal.

A: By contrast, the Coney Island station is huge and lively, the point of departure or arrival of several subway lines.

You will quickly find signs for the Coney Island Promenade once you have gone down the stairs at the end of the quay.

On Stillwell Ave, turn left. There is already an air of funfair even if the amusement parks are only open in summer.

Cross Surf Ave in front of a famous fast food stand: it’s there that every summers, the fastest hot dogs eaters meet for their annual competition.

B: Next, go along Surf Ave on the right until W 15th St. Take it on the left to join the boardwalk. This gives you the opportunity to take close-up pictures of the Thunderbolt, a colorful and impressive roller coaster.
Once on the promenade, take a right to get a closer look at the B & B Carrousel and behind it, the Cyclone Park. The Cyclones are the Brooklyn baseball team and you can see retro posters of their exploits at the entrance, behind the gates.

Then set out again towards the sea and the Pat Auletta Steeplechase pontoon. Rebuilt 5 times following hurricanes, it owes its name to Pat Auletta, “the mayor of Coney Island” in the 1960s. However, why “Steeplechase”, I don’t know. Except if it refers to the lenght of the pontoon that welcomes many visitors, sea watchers or anglers.

C: When leaving the pontoon, take the walk again, this time on the right. After a building with info and toilets, you will pass the Luna Park and its various rides; then other fast food stalls, colorful and retro. Another place to take original photos if you have an eye for them.

The New York Aquarium will be a little further; it is well known for its sea lion shows.

The New York Aquarium will be a little further; it is well known for its sea lion shows.

If it doesn’t appeal to you, keep going until Brighton Beach, nicknamed “the Little Odessa”. You will see two Russian restaurants along the promenade and, seated on folding benches or chairs, chatty babushkas. On other benches and between them, their husbands, perhaps just as talkative but a little less noisy. You are in another world, far from the amusement parks.

After the second restaurant, take 6th St. on the left. You are now in the heart of Brighton Beach and you may well come across Orthodox Jews in traditional clothes. There are many there.

D: At the end of the street, turn right onto Brighton Beach Ave. The stores are now covered in Cyrillic writing. You will soon arrive at a small park on the right but first, go opposite to find several shops of Russian specialties. They have takeaways or cakes that could warrant a picnic stop in the park. Otherwise, the spectacle of the crowd at this location will suffice for a restfull stop.

E: Once you are full or rested, take 12th St roughly in front of you. The street is less busy, more residential.

At the end, turn left on Corbin Pl. then right on Cass Pl. You will arrive on Shore Road with its benches along the bay and there, other fishermen. Do they try to catch the “sheep’s head” fish which gave their name to the district opposite, only they know.

In any case, you want to go and take the pedestrian bridge that crosses the bay to join Emmons Ave.

F: You will then be in the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood. It has changed a lot since it was only a fishing village but it remains quiet. Anyway, you mainly go there to reach the metro station that bears its name.

To do so, at the end of the bridge, take Emmons Ave on the right, then Ocean Ave on the left. At the intersection of Ocean Ave and Voorhies Ave, you will see a very beautiful Russian Orthodox church. It does not seem to be open to the public but with a good zoom, you’ll be able to take pictures of it, then pretend that you went to Russia.

After that, take Voorhies Ave on the left then Sheepshead Bay Rd on the right and finally Jerome Ave on the left.

The metro station will be there.

It will allow you to return to Manhattan by going through semi-wooded areas. You will still be in Brooklyn but a very different Brooklyn from th one you saw when coming.

This will be the end of this walk.

If you want to know more about Coney Island since its construction, I would recommend this book: Coney Island: Visions of an American dreamland, 1861, 2008.

Before you go, however, don’t forget your guide and see at the bottom of the page how to thank him. Then enjoy the rest of your day!

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