Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Taking The Coney Express

Could a Coney Express ever begin zipping passengers from Manhattan’s connecting point in a bee line to Coney Island? At Monday’s Coney Island Development Corporation meeting CIDC president, Lynn Kelly mentioned the need for an express line to Coney. For many years one of the main reason’s Coney Island could not so easily thrive as other places in Brooklyn like Williamsburg is the distance and travel time to Manhattan.

But at one time there was a direct route to Coney Island from mid-town Manhattan. As posted on the Coney Island USA bulletin board by
Captain Nemo, the Sea Beach Line was indeed the Coney Express. The tracks that for the most part start at 57th Street, in Manhattan, stretch all the way down to the Stillwell Avenue Station in Coney Island. Originally, the tracks were not meant to provide service to Sea Beach riders – they were meant for the Express train to Coney.

This fast train to the south end of Brooklyn goes back to the days of the steam railroad.

According the

The Sea Beach Line was built primarily to carry resort goers and day-trippers from the hot city to the breezes and amusements of the shore in the era before air conditioning.

But due to bad elements and disasters like fires and Robert Moses, this rapid train service to Coney met its fate.

A combination of events doomed the service. Coney Island, while still a big attraction for bathers, declined steadily as an amusement resort. One of Coney Island's two huge amusement parks of the subway era, Luna Park, suffered disastrous fires, closing in 1949. "Master Builder" Robert Moses had his hand in there, too. Moses hated "tawdry" entertainments. He felt the modern urban beach-goer would be more ennobled looking at fish than peep shows, so he moved the New York Aquarium to a large portion of Coney real estate. Actually, the fish are very nice, but they don't attract the huge crowds.

This is something for the MTA to reconsider now that the redevelopment of Coney Island is starting to bubble. It’s also something for the public to start pressing. If the Coney Express were to begin operating it could help chug the long haul of Coney’s redevelopment phase a little faster.

Follow the discussion at the CIUSA board

Those Sea Beach Express Tracks []
Riding the Coney Island Express and 3rd Avenue El []
BMT Sea Beach Line []

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a relative newcomer to the Manhattan-Coney Island commute, (and a partisan of both mass transit and Coney Island development) I couldn't agree more; none of the envisioned projects outlined by the City last Monday night are really viable without a direct express route connecting the attractions to the financial and tourism base that is Manhattan. MTA is the missing player in all these presentations--- surely the upgrades to Stillwell aren't REALLY fully utilized without this last piece of the puzzle.