There are few places on Earth that have as much hustle and bustle as New York City, so it's no surprise that people nearby flock to some sort of escape. For many, that escape comes in the form of Brooklyn's Coney Island, which has been one of the area's most popular seaside resorts and amusement park areas since the late 19th century. People may come for different things, such as the festivities held there on July 4th (most notably the hot dog eating contest), the newest rollercoaster, or a minor league baseball game, but just about everyone is sure to have a good time.
Like so much of New York's development, the manner in which Coney Island has become what it is over the past 130 years is full of surprise and controversy. For most of its history, Coney Island was virtually uninhabited, even when the native Lenape lived in the region before European explorers arrived, yet that very aspect made the place attractive for vacationers looking to escape city life during the summer. In fact, New York City's leaders tried to prevent development on the island in hopes of establishing it as a giant natural park, only for wealthy resorts to ultimately pop up along beachfront property. Far from it, Coney Island spent the last few decades of the 19th century operating like Las Vegas, with every kind of vice helping keep things running.
In time, Coney Island became America's biggest and most visited amusement park resort, with Dreamland, Steeplechase Park, and Luna Park all becoming some of the nation's most famous and historic parks. Although Coney Island's heyday has long since passed and those three parks have all closed, Coney Island remains best known for amusement parks today. The first rides were built on Coney Island in the 1870s, and there are now multiple parks on Coney Island, which has actually since become a peninsula thanks to the addition of landfill over the course of its development.