Coney Island is like an old Jaguar XKE that is completely rusted out, no longer runs, and is in a garage filled with rats. There's no reason to see it twice, and yet you can't help it--because it's an old XKE.
I've been going to Coney Island every year or two since 1987, and every time I go I think it will be my last. So here are a few nice things I'm going to say about Coney Island in 2016:
Like NYC as a whole, it is nicer than it has ever been. I should amend that: It's as nice as it's probably been in the last 75 years.
The Stillwell Avenue subway terminal is still a bit seedy, but no longer scary. It's almost sorta clean in some spots.
Quite a few storefronts along Surf Avenue are still boarded up, including the entire Shore Hotel. But no longer Warriors-like.
Nathan's across the street? It's celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. None the worse for wear...good enough for corn dogs and chili cheese dogs.
The boardwalk was crowded. A few bikers and druggies and seedy looking folks, but for the most part it was families.
The beach still had some litter and some glass, but nothing like a decade ago when you could literally take a sand pail along the water's edge and fill it in about 5 minutes with shards of glass.
Fog rolled in as soon as we got there (see top photo, with Wonder Wheel obscured in the background), and the ocean was freezing, so Samuel and I dipped our toes and that was it. (I asked Ethan if he wanted to join us. He said, "Nothing good ever comes from going in the water.")
The new Luna Park amusement area is 10 times nicer than rusty old Astroland, which it replaced a few years back.
As far as beaches go, there's no reason to go here rather than Jones Beach or Fire Island or the Hamptons. As far as amusements go, there's no reason to go here rather than Six Flags or Rye Playland or Lake Compounce.
So I'm damning with faint praise. But...I've gotta give it a thumbs up this year. We won't be back again in 2016, but...we'll probably be back.