Sharks Are Getting a Prime Spot on the Coney Island Boardwalk


The latest addition to the New York Aquarium is almost ready to open.

The sinuous, shimmering new home of the aquarium’s sharks will open to the public on June 30 and a recent visit by Brownstoner showed work on the exterior is nearly complete.

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Details about the planned 57,000-square-foot exhibit space, Ocean Wonders: Sharks!, were announced in 2012, but then came Hurricane Sandy. The ground breaking was delayed until 2014 as the aquarium focused on recovery.

new york aquarium coney island

Image via NY Aquarium

The project team included the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Susan Chin, Vice President of Planning & Design and Chief Architect, along with the Portico Group, a Seattle-based firm specializing in education spaces such as museums, zoos and aquariums, and Manhattan-based Edelman Sultan Knox Wood Architects.

new york aquarium coney island sharks

Workers in cherry pickers were spotted Wednesday attending to the boardwalk-facing facade, seemingly doing some final work on the signature touch of the building, the Shimmer Wall. The wall is made up of 33,000 aluminum rectangles that hang from tension cables wrapped around the facade.

The shifting winds off the water send the bright metal pieces swinging in the sun, creating a sense of movement and light across the building. The installation was designed in collaboration with artist Ned Kahn.

new york aquarium coney island sharks

The main attraction will, of course, be the sharks, and once inside the aquarium you will know exactly where to head as “Sharks!” is boldly written across a blue-colored tower at the entrance to the new building.

Visitors will be able to get a close look at the creatures by entering the exhibit through an acrylic tunnel. There will be a total of 115 species on display in the main 500,000 gallon tank, including sandbar sharks and loggerhead sea turtles.

Plans call for multiple “immersive” experiences with a coral reef, shipwreck and a Hudson canyon to explore.

new york aquarium coney island sharks

For those strolling along the waterfront, the new building also offers another food venue on this end of the boardwalk. The Oceanside Grill is accessible from the boardwalk and already open for business.

The new aquarium building, officially known as Donald Zucker and Barbara Hrbek Zucker Ocean Wonders: Sharks!, joins other new attractions that have opened up along the boardwalk, including the restored Childs Restaurant, which opened last year, and its neighbor the Ford Amphitheater, which opened in 2016.

new york aquarium coney island

[Photos by Susan De Vries unless noted otherwise]

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