Coney Island

June 2019

The sky was overcast. One could say it was a dreary June day. Not really the kind of weather that would make you take a train down to Coney Island but there we were, waiting at 62nd Street for the D train to do just that. Go to Coney Island. To the aquarium, actually.

people waiting for a train at 62nd street in brooklyn
62nd Street Station in Brooklyn (2019)

If I recall, it was midweek. Work time. The streets were dead and peppered with a few tourists and local families on a small day trip. It felt like rain. The clouds were dark and rolling in. The wind wasn’t pleasant, yet, we walked along Surf Avenue towards the aquarium.

The surrounding shops weren’t open yet and if they were, you couldn’t really tell. Everything was just… so… dreary. Even Nathan’s Hot Dog, a cheerily painted place with its signature yellows and greens, looked a bit sad against the ash-smeared sky. Luna Park arcade had a handful of people in there, and the Cyclone made its round around the tracks with no bodies seated in it.

a shark swims in the shark tunnel at the new york aquarium in brooklyn
a shark in the shark tunnel (2019) | buy print

We walked up to the New York Aquarium, paid our entrance fee, and entered a desolate landscape of cold steel, unmanned food carts, and an unexcited air of leisure.

I didn’t know what to expect, except I’ve been to a handful of aquariums as a child, in Japan, and may have had high expectations.

Part of the park was closed down for renovations. I heard the tail-end of a show (seals?). We walked past some seals — cheeky things. Saw some penguins doing fast circuits in their watery cages. We made our way to the sharks exhibit, the first bit of which was the shark tunnel.

Luna Park from the back of a train
View of Luna Park from the back of the train (2019) | buy print

The shimmer was mesmerizing and I tried to capture it in some photos.

As we made our way through the exhibit the lights got darker. Almost black with just enough light so you can see the deep sea creatures.

And then it was over.

Back out in the dreariness of the ashy sky. I was underwhelmed.

I made my way over to an ominously empty tank and put my forehead to the glass. I cupped my eyes to cut down on the glare and saw nothing. Just mossy green stuff and a mound of sand at the bottom of the tank. And then there it was. Almost imperceptible, camouflaged with the dank coloration of the water tank. Sea turtles. Two of them, gliding through the water. The whole thing felt sad so I walked away.

Coney Island boardwalk in Brooklyn
Coney Island Boardwalk (2019) | buy art print
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