I’m not sure if the tradition of observing Easter Sunday which is followed by a trip to Coney Island is just a Brooklyn ritual but this custom goes far back into the years before my birth. Over the break, I listened to my Grandmother talk about the favored trip to Coney Island like it was so ordinary and usual; “It was normal,” she said “go to church, then go to Coney Island.” She recalled, in a retrospective tone. “Or at least that’s what I did with my kids.” she said reminiscing about my Mom and Aunt. As a kid I loved the beach; it was always sunny and the water was always cool, but after a while the easy accessible, Coney Island Beach got to be too dangerous. It was consistently polluted with garbage and debris; the worst thing possible to ruin a day at the beach would be to see an empty bag of potato chips pass you by as you wade in the water. For a stint of my childhood that was what Coney Island Beach reduced itself to. Although the beach is a lot cleaner now, whenever my family and I want to go to the beach we jump on the A line and take a short trip to Rockaway Beach.
I have spent years feeling like a bad Brooklynite for being enticed by the peacefulness and cleanliness of the prestigious Queens beach. Of course I have and will always love the Coney Island area, but when you are looking for a little piece of suburban life in the midst of the hustle and bustle of urban New York City, Rockaway Beach is the place to be.
Just as the Canarsie Pier, in the 1600’s the Rockaways were ruled by a Native American tribe until the Dutch exiled them in order to take over the land. Rockaway translates to “sandy place” or “place of our people” in their language. Although different wealthy people tried to proclaim the land as their own and name it after themselves, the term Rockaway reluctantly stuck and is what we call the area today. In the late 1800’s tracks were laid down for a steam railroad and is still used today for the Long Island Rail Road and the A/S MTA lines. The Rockaway Park station opened on August 26, 1880; it closed in 1955 and reopened in 1956 as Rockaway Park–Beach 116th Street.
As we all know, Hurricane Sandy stripped the publicly adored boardwalk which ultimately forced the concrete rebuild of the boardwalk. Although the new boardwalk is a masterpiece all in itself, no one can quite forget the feel of its wooden predecessor.
Hopefully everyone enjoyed the Holidays or just basked in the pleasant warm weather. As the good weather trend continues, try out Rockaway Beach for a trip away from the hectic New York life or go to Coney Island for family fun; both are amazing and are the best places for unforgettable memories.
Join the conversation, What is your favorite beach in New York? What makes it your favorite?
*PLEASE SWIM AT YOUR OWN RISK, AS LIFEGUARDS ARE NOT ON DUTY FOR THE SUMMER SEASON YET*