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Coney Island lies in a far corner of Brooklyn that has attracted visitors with its beaches and amusement park for over a century. The neighborhood has has had its share of ups and downs, and burnt out buildings and decrepit roller coasters were the norm for decades. Hurricane Sandy dealt another blow in 2012. Today, the beachfront neighborhood is bouncing back. Here are five reasons why Coney Island is better than ever:

The Thunderbolt

A longtime institution at Coney Island’s Luna Park, the famed wooden roller coaster met the wrecking ball in 1982. Last year, however, the Thunderbolt was resurrected with a modern, steel ride that stands 125 feet tall and sends screaming riders flying on near ninety degree vertical drops.

Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest

Nathan’s Hot Dogs are a Coney Island tradition, and their annual 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest has become a cult sensation for sports lovers the world over. ESPN’s annual coverage of Joey Chestnut facing off against Kobayashi and the rest of the world’s best competitive eaters is a wild attraction that keeps the neighborhood’s fresh and eccentric vibe current.

The Brooklyn Cyclones

Baseball is our nation’s pastime, but the Yankees are in the Bronx, and the Mets are in Queens. To enjoy a night out at the ballfield, guests of the Nu Hotel can check out the Brooklyn Cyclones, a minor league club that plays its home games right in Coney Island.

The Mermaid Parade

Another iconic local event, the Mermaid Parade annually attracts crowds of over half a million participants and spectators. Dressed like fantastical underwater creatures, they wander the boardwalk with a Mardi Gras mentality.  Held right in Coney Island, this is where people go to celebrate the dawn of summer.

History

Walking the boardwalk and weaving through the amusements, you can’t help but feel connected with New York City’s history. Fully embedded in the city identity, Coney Island has stood the test of time. Here’s to many more summers at the beach.

image via flickr