top of page

Inspiration Explorer - Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY

Beach Modules, Coney Island Museum & Coney Island Art Walls

I have been spending a lot of time at Brighton Beach this summer, training for a swimming race - and have developed the habit of walking the boardwalk between Brighton Beach and Coney Island each Saturday after I swim. Since Hurricane Sandy, the area has gone through some major changes, but as always, technology and design have come together to rebuild Coney Island.

Starting with the New

Hurricane Sandy destroyed most of the lifeguard stations and public restrooms all along Coney Island and Brighton Beach. In an effort to rebuild, the city looked to architect Jim Garrison for a new design for these public spaces. His solutions combine salvaged materials and environmental sustainable technology with futuristic architecture. Walking down the boardwalk I couldn’t fully decide if the buildings were brand new or salvaged from another era. Either way, I love them.


Coney Island has always been a place were technology is employed to enhance entertainment - often more progressively then in society at large. In 1903 Martin Couney brought the Infant Incubator facility to Coney Island, because no one else would support his new technology. Over the course of 40 years, Couney claims to have saved the lives of nearly 6,500 premature babies, all paid for by visitors to his various exhibits.

Walking through the Coney Island Museum, there are countless other examples of innovative technology being used to woo the masses. Printing and fabrication, as well as the developing array of electric lighting made Coney Island into a technological mecca.

Featured at the Coney Island Museum is a 3-D printed scale model of the original Luna Park, Thompson & Dundy's Luna Park: 3D Printed by the Great Fredini. The model, as well as an accompanying film explore the design and technology that made Luna Park so magical.

A majority of the museum is dedicated to printed goods from the hay-day of Coney Island. Some of my favorite exhibits included paper tickets for rides and attractions, postcards and a hap-hazard collection of old bathing costumes and supplies from the era.

The museum costs only $5, and is worth a visit.

Another organization, The Coney Island History Project, also offers walking tours of the area.

Need more art?

The walls, ground and buildings of the area are covering in the artwork of locals. Coney Island Art Walls - Dubbed the “Outdoor Museum of Street Art” these walls are awesome. The walls change each year, and feature dozens of great artists.

Not in New York? Try San Francisco

Looking for some west coast samples of early twentieth century technology and entertainment? San Francisco has a handful of great options.

Musée Mécanique

An antique penny arcade located in the Fisherman’s Wharf, this place is a great source for a variety of time periods and themes. They have games ranging from the later 19th century to the 1980’s, and everything is cheap to play with. From technological ideas to graphics, this is a must stop if you’re in the area.

Camera Obscura

Another sample of old but interesting technology and design, the Camera Obscura, located just next to Cliff House on Point Lobos Ave, and opened in 1946, is an interesting spectacle. The tiny hut is old and cheap, but offers some cool glances into optical illusions and design from a bygone era.

My fascination with these types of places is the combination of technology and design. Today we are asked to think about post effects and motion capture - can we learn anything about how to push our work forward from the technological leaps of the past?

Additional Reading

How One Man Saved a Generation of Premature Babies:

The Great Fredini's Cabinet of Curiosities:

Coney Island History Project:

bottom of page