The second largest, yet most populated, borough in New York City is Brooklyn. While technically part of the overall New York City sprawl, Brooklyn has evolved over the years with its own unique culture, architecture, and heritage, completely separate while at the same time completely intertwined with that of its big sister, New York City. Brooklyn is a unique city-within-a-city, and its neighborhoods are broken down into ethnic enclaves, each with their own distinct traditions, cultures, and viewpoints. It is this fact, perhaps, which has flavored the background of the borough over the years, because these ethnic groups have not always gotten along well with each other.
Brooklyn has long been at the forefront of anything tied to New York City. The number of movies and books written about characters or stories that revolve around Brooklyn are nearly limitless, and while organized crime and gangs have declined in recent years, there are still some fairly rough neighborhoods which are absolutely off limits to tourists, especially if they don’t understand the cultures and histories tied to different regions. The main tourist sections of the city are reserved to downtown Brooklyn, with sights like the Brooklyn Bridge and its views out over Manhattan, or places like Prospect Park or Coney Island and Brighton Beach.
South Brooklyn was once the premier resort destination for NYC. Coney Island developed as a playground for the rich in the early 1900s, when wealthy New Yorkers would bet on horses at the Gravesend or Sheepshead Bay Race Track and dined at high-class restaurants and seaside hotels. No trip to Sheepshead Bay would be complete without a stop at the docks and then dinner at Lundy's Restaurant. The introduction of the subway made Coney Island a vacation destination for the masses, and it evolved into one of America's first amusement grounds. The Cyclone roller coaster, built in 1927, is on the National Register of Historic Places. The 1920 Wonder Wheel and other rides are still operational at Astroland. Coney Island went into decline in the 1970s, but is undergoing a renaissance. The annual Coney Island Mermaid Parade is a hipster costume-and-float parade which honored David Byrne, pre-punk music guru, as the head merman in 1998. Coney Island also hosts the annual Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest. Also make sure to visit cultural landmarks such as Junior's resturant, Grand Army Plaza and cool neighborhood such as Williamsburg and Red Hook.
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