How to Get to Coney Island in the 1890s? Hold On for Your Life

Photo via NYPL


Even in 2016, a trip to Coney Island is an adventure in and of itself: the row houses and bodegas flashing by from the elevated tracks, the costumed characters casually riding the rails alongside you as the Wonder Wheel and Cyclone approach in their neon glory and the train pulls into the Coney Island Terminal, last stop.

In the late 19th century, though, a trip to Coney was a different beast, as depicted in the above image of a crowd of suited men hanging off a packed train en route to Coney Island, Bath Beach and the long-defunct Ulmer Park.

A beer garden and “pleasure park,” Ulmer Park was run by successful Brooklyn brewer William Ulmer. It opened in 1893 in Gravesend Bay, what is today considered Bensonhurst.

Ulmer Park remained a destination for clean, family-friendly fun — featuring a dance pavilion and rifle ranges — until it closed in 1899, unable to stand up to the more popular and nearby Coney Island, according to The Bowery Boys.

Bath Beach, at the time, was a resort.

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