Nov 3, 2017

The Men and Boys of Coney Island

Coney Island is a peninsula in southern Brooklyn, about an hour by subway from Penn Station.  It consists of four neighborhoods (Seagate, West Brighton, Brighton Beach, and Manhattan Beach).  Beginning in the 1870s, thousands of New Yorkers tried to escape the summer heat by heading out to the beaches of Coney Island every weekend.

When they weren't swimming, they could walk along the boardwalk for snacks (hot dogs with chili were invented there), and eventually other attractions: side-show acts, carnival rides, burlesque shows, bodybuilders.

Coney Island had its own muscle beach.

Two amusement parks developed, Luna Park and Dreamland, with rides, games, and carnival acts.

It was the place to go for working-class New Yorkers.  They have included fond memories of Coney Island into dozens of movies (Brighton Beach Memoirs, The Wanderers) and tv programs (Seinfeld, The Golden Girls), in songs and poems and novels.

And, of course, photographers roamed the crowds, capturing the joy and pain of the young men who came for momentary relief from the drudgery of everyday life.

These boys are doing some sort of feat of strength on Muscle Beach in 1905.

Why no swimsuit? Was this a spur-of-the-moment outing, or couldn't he afford one?

This guy seems to have lost his pants.  Nice bulge.

Harold Feinstein (1931-2015) was born on Coney Island, and began photographing Coney Island boys and men at age fifteen.

This is Muscle Beach, 1967, aka two guys holding hands.

More after the break.

An impromptu concert.

Morris Engel (1918-2005) grew up in Brooklyn, and had his first photographic exhibition in 1939.  He photographed Coney Island boys and men throughout his life.  His independent film Little Fugitive (1953) is about a boy who runs away from home to Coney Island..

Reginald Marsh (1898-1954) preferred to photograph and draw the ladies of Coney Island, but occasionally he presented some beefcake.

In 2014, fashion photographer Oscar Correcher continued the tradition by bringing his hottest models to Coney Island for a shoot.

1 comment:

  1. ��Goodbye my Coney Island baby��

    Yeah, the tourism industry for Coney "not really an" Island is pretty legendary. And like every beach, there's a boardwalk. And like every boardwalk, the real fun is under the boardwalk. For our concerns, the changing rooms are also nice.


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