Visitors to the Coney Island/Stillwell Avenue train station in Brooklyn are in for a real treat – artist and theater director/designer Robert Wilson’s art installation, My Coney Island Baby (2003). Wilson explored archival images of Coney Island’s holiday trip and amusement park history in his screen-printed works, which span a glass brick wall stretching approximately 370 feet along one side of the station.
The station is entirely above ground, as the subway lines are elevated in this part of Brooklyn. The glass wall brings a lot of light into the station, drawing visitors’ attention to Wilson’s colorful and imaginative images.
Some images show Coney Island’s long history as an entertainment destination, with its amusement parks and carnival-style “freak” shows.
Others show delightful vintage shots of life in a beach town.
I particularly loved this sweet image of children surrounding a float ring, possibly swimming in the ocean or lounging on the beach.
Finally, there is a giant hot dog – the food most associated with Coney Island. In fact, you can visit the original location for Nathan’s Famous, which began selling hot dogs at Coney Island 100 years ago, in 1916, for only 5 cents each. Somehow this image doesn’t exactly fit with the style of the others, but it is still fun and part of Coney Island’s history. (Don’t expect a 5-cent hot dog from Nathan’s today though – the last time I checked the hot dogs ranged in price from $4.25 to $4.99, depending on toppings.)
To get to the Coney Island/Stillwell Avenue Station, take the D, F, N, or Q train. The art is on the ground level.