A Pictorial Journey Through the Groovy 1960s Vibe of Coney Island’s Iconic Attractions and Bohemian Scenes

The 1960s were a tumultuous and transformative period in American history, marked by social upheaval, civil rights movements, and cultural revolutions. Amidst this backdrop, Coney Island found itself at a crossroads, negotiating between its illustrious past and an uncertain future.

Civil Rights and Coney Island

As the civil rights movement gathered momentum in the 1960s, Coney Island became a barometer for social change in New York City. The beach and amusement parks served as common grounds where New Yorkers from diverse backgrounds mingled, albeit not without tension. Activists and community leaders worked towards making the “People’s Playground” more inclusive, pushing for desegregation and equal rights. Though not without its struggles, Coney Island began to more fully reflect the melting pot that was—and still is—New York City.

The “Wonder Wheel”: An Evergreen Attraction

One constant amidst the upheavals was the Wonder Wheel, Coney Island’s enduring Ferris wheel that had been around since 1920. In the 1960s, it served as both a nostalgic relic and a perennial attraction, giving riders unparalleled views of the sprawling metropolis and the Atlantic Ocean. For many New Yorkers, the Wonder Wheel became a symbol of continuity in changing times, as dependable as the subway or the Brooklyn Bridge.

Urban Decay and Renewal Efforts

As was the case with much of New York City, the 1960s saw Coney Island grappling with urban decay, underinvestment, and declining popularity. Amidst the challenges, there were concerted efforts to rejuvenate the area. Various renewal plans were discussed, some controversial, like the proposed housing projects and redevelopment schemes. Although none were fully realized during the decade, these conversations laid the groundwork for Coney Island’s future transitions.

#1 Nine Women Lying Face Down on Coney Island Beach, Aerial View

#4 The Parachute Jump Amusement Ride in Coney Island, Circa 1960

#5 People Tossing Someone in the Air with a Blanket at Coney Island

#7 Nathan Handwerker, Founder of Famous Coney Island Hot Dog Stand, 1960

#9 Fishermen on Steeplechase Pier at Coney Island During Fishing Contest

#11 Marsha Diamond Basking in Solitude Under a Sign at Coney Island

#12 Group of Women Soaking Up Sunshine at Coney Island

#13 Couples Embracing Under Coney Island Boardwalk, 1961

#14 People Socializing Under Coney Island Boardwalk, 1961

#15 Brooklyn’s “Polar Bears” Braving the Cold at Coney Island

#16 Crowd Scene in Front of Nathan’s at Coney Island, 1961

#17 Max Weinberg Sells Tickets at Coney Island’s Dragon’s Cave

#21 Lifeguard at Steeplechase Park Points at a Rule Breaker

#22 Arthur Levitt Kissing a Baby During Coney Island Campaign

#23 Four People on Trampolines at Coney Island Amusement Park, 1961

#24 Parachute Jump at Coney Island Amusement Park, 1961

#25 Roller Coaster at Coney Island Amusement Park, 1961

#28 Night View of Calypso Ride at Coney Island Amusement Park, 1961

#29 Girl Performing Flip on Trampoline at Coney Island, 1961

#30 Portrait of John and Susan Goodwin on Coney Island Beach, 1962

#31 Fun Seekers Enjoying Coney Island Beach and Attractions

#32 Fun Seekers at Coney Island Beach, Boardwalk, and Amusement Park

#33 Queue for Coney Island’s Famous Cyclone Rollercoaster, 1964

#36 Kids Fishing off Steeplechase Pier, Watching Parachute Jump Ride, 1965

#39 Subway Trains Idle at Coney Island Yard During Strike, 1966

#42 Holidaymakers Relaxing on Coney Island Beach, 1966

#44 Aerial View of Coney Island Beach and Nathan’s Hot Dog Stand, 1966

#45 Crowd Outside Nathan’s Famous Celebrating Its 50th Year, 1966

#46 Fred Trump Hands Ax for Razing of Steeplechase Park, 1966

#49 Miss Coney Island Arlene Shaw Takes Dip with Polar Bear Club, 1968

#51 Unidentified Men Pose on Crowded Coney Island Beach, 1968

#52 Laughing Boy Half-Buried in Coney Island Sand, 1968

#53 Mounted Police on Surf Avenue at Coney Island, 1968

#54 Elderly Woman Amidst Beachgoers at Coney Island, 1968

#55 Mounted Police Patrol Crowded Street at Coney Island, 1968

#56 Girls and Sleeping Man on Coney Island Beach, 1968

#57 Contestants at ‘Machine Guns’ Arcade, Coney Island, 1968

#58 Couple Eating Hot Dogs at Nathan’s Famous, Coney Island, 1968

#59 Young Girls Eating Hot Dogs at Coney Island, 1968

#60 Nighttime View of Parachute Jump at Coney Island, 1968

#62 The Wonder Wheel in Astroland, Coney Island, 1969

#64 Residential Street with Children Playing, Coney Island, 1969

#69 Norman Mailer Campaigns with Lunch Break at Coney Island, 1969

#70 Norman Mailer Laughs with Corn Cob Vendors, Coney Island, 1969

Written by Makayla White

An amateur content creator and dreamer. I Run, Cycle, Swim, Dance and drink a lot of Coffee.

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