Vintage Photos of Coney Island Shown for First Time

  Aaron Rose took a series of photographs at Coney Island from 1961 to 1963. Seventy of the unseen images are on display at the Museum of the City of New York.
Coney Island Photographs by Aaron Rose
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EAST HARLEM — Take a trip to Coney Island — and back in time — without leaving Manhattan.

A new exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York features Aaron Rose’s vintage photographs of the city’s best-known beach from a time when John F. Kennedy was still president and the Mets played in Washington Heights.

“It’s still Coney Island,” said curator Sean Corcoran. “It is still the place you can go for a subway fare and see New York on display. People watching is great at Coney Island to this day.”

The exhibit, "In A World of Their Own: Coney Island Photographs by Aaron Rose, 1961 – 1963," includes 70 previously unseen photographs of couples making out on their beach blankets, women sunbathing and playing cards and muscle men showing off their toned bodies.

Rose, a native New Yorker who photographed the destruction of Penn Station, was one of the first photographers to experiment with color images. The vivid shots of Coney Island were ahead of their time, Corcoran said.

“You would only see color in magazines at this time,” he said.

Although the photographs were taken more than 50 years ago, the people in them are doing the same things beach goers do today, which makes the images relatable, Corcoran said.

The destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy adds another layer to the exhibit, as New Yorkers gained a deeper appreciation for Coney Island after the storm, Corcoran said.

“There were pictures in this gallery less than a month ago of boardwalk wreckage,” he said. “I’m sure it’s in people’s mind.”

"In A World of Their Own: Coney Island Photographs by Aaron Rose, 1961 – 1963" runs from May 9 to Aug. 3 at the Museum of the City of New York. 

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