I made my first visit to Coney Island yesterday. As I quickly learned, the place is full of contradictions.
Coney Island is simultaneously sleazy and serene, dilapidated and disarming, an eye sore and eye candy. Take a look in one direction and you may see gaudy store fronts and run-down buildings covered in graffiti . But look the other way and watch boats float by as you take in the glistening Atlantic Ocean.
In the following pictures, I try and capture these contradictions.
The man above fascinated me. He could have placed himself and his beach chair anywhere. And yet, instead of opting for a prime space on the beach, he sets up shop on the boardwalk, opposite the beach view. His view? A vacant, polluted lot, much like the one in the background of the boardwalk bar pictured below.
The boardwalk is the glue that brings it all together. Young and old take in the beach views in the shadows of the rides, restaurants and relics of yesteryear.
When I saw the building below in the distance, I thought it was from the movie “Big.” I don’t know if I was right or wrong, as it was boarded up and shut down. But that didn’t stop some from making good use of its facade.
The beach itself is a bit of a “Monet” — beautiful from a distance, but up close? Eh, not so much. The sand is littered with all sorts of debris that only faintly shows up in pictures.
And yes, for the record, I stopped by Nathan’s. And now that I’ve done the original, I can safely stand by my assessment that Nathan’s is way overrated.