Background on NYC Beaches

New York’s 14 miles of free public beaches exist in every borough except the river-bound Manhattan. This is a vast improvement upon the period before the 1900s, when New York City’s citizens and visitors alike had to go on day trips to resorts and amusement parks along the Atlantic to truly enjoy the ocean. Jacob Riis Park, Coney Island boardwalk, and waterfront parks in Brooklyn and Queens were popular.

This city has a 578 mile coastline, and willing travelers now need only a bus or a subway to reach it.

Although there was a time for amusement parks like George Tilyou’s at Coney Island, the local amusement park industry suffered in the 1930s, causing much of New York’s waterfront to be returned to city ownership.

During this time, the Parks Department under Commissioner Robert Moses began to manage many municipal beaches, including Coney Island in 1938. Moses used the Works Progress Administration and other federal programs to advance his vision of a more wholesome beach experience. Music halls, shooting galleries, dilapidated early boardwalks, and carousels were destroyed to make room for new boardwalks and beachfront amenities.

Beach attendance increased dramatically after WWII, and the city acquired more coast land. Aside from ordinary litter, successors have dealth with fires, storms, and sewage issues since Moses left office in 1960.

Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York pictures


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