RUNAWAYS : A SHORT HISTORY OF CONEY ISLAND

Melbourne photographer, Kate Shanasy, captures New York’s favourite day trip, Coney Island.

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Whichever way you look at it, Coney Island is an incredible place. The history, the architecture, the famous hotdog stands along the boardwalk. When Luna Park was built in 1903, festooned with 250,000 flashing, glowing lights, it was the first thing that most visitors saw on their way into New York by boat. At the same time, electricity hadn’t been widely available on the grid, so for New Yorkers and tourists alike, there was a sense of magic and bewilderment in the air when they took the short train ride down through Brooklyn onto Coney Island.

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Coney Island was a beacon for capitalism through the beginning of last century. A place for New Yorkers to escape the monotony of the city ad enjoy the fruits of a prosperous age. At the turn of the century, the working laws were relaxed and American’s started getting weekends to spend at their leisure. So Coney Island became a destination for the strange and the wonderful, dotted with freak shows, amusement parks, bars, and seaside restaurants.

And then when the middle of the century came and the theme parks became nothing more than relics of the past, Coney Island lost its place as a cultural icon. It became run down and unwanted. The amusement parks were stuck in time, too young to be romantic and historical, too old to be useful in any practical sense.

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So is it worth visiting in 2017?

We think that Coney Island is more of a cultural icon than ever, but not as a place to come and experience the rides and let you hair down. It’s become more than that. A little seaside enclave just near the city that is forever lost in a more honest, more hopeful, more industrious time. So like photographer Kate Shanasy, who took these photographs for Tailors Mark, take the train out of Manhattan through Brooklyn to the end of the line, and enjoy going to somewhere that reminds you of a time gone by. Enjoy the architecture, the rows and rows of electric bulbs and think about how much of an achievement that is. And, for goodness sake, enjoy an iconic American style hotdog, even if they are four times the price.

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