This is a beautiful tribute to those lost in the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 on September 12, 2001.
After visiting the memorial, I walked onto the boardwalk and it seemed to be in good physical shape. I turned right and went for a walk, finding cold water showers, bathroom facilities, and conveniently placed benches along the way. One thing that struck me immediately was how the housing developments were almost on top of the boardwalk, which is the most striking difference between Coney Island and Rockaway Beach. These hulking multi-storey buildings certainly do not add any aesthetic appeal to taking a walk along the boardwalk.
These large apartment buildings are very close to the boardwalk.
Returning to B 116th Street, I noticed a large restaurant adjacent to the boardwalk where all sorts of foods and refreshments were available. I walked in a eastward direction along the boardwalk, and still the encroachment of the buildings seemed to bother me more than anything else. The small shops, restaurants, and bars on the Coney Island boardwalk made for a much more amenable situation for a visitor.
The site where Playland once stood has apartment complexes and a strip mall.
The thing I was looking for as I made my way along the boardwalk was gone. The amusement park known as Playland (I didn't realize that it closed in 1985) had been replaced by hulking apartment complexes with beautiful water views. How lucky for them and how sad for those with memories of a simpler time.
As I made my way back toward the beach, I remembered the purpose of my visit: answering the best beach question. I walked down to the water and saw lifeguards on duty in both directions. The surf was clear and cold, and the sand as pristine as that on Coney Island. On this beautiful June weekday, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves on the sand and in the water.
Lifeguards are on duty overlooking the clean sands and water of Rockaway Beach.
When I thought about it honestly, Rockaway probably does have the better beach. First, there is more of it. Second, it seemed like the waves were bigger and stronger here, and then I discovered that Rockaway boasts the only "surfing beaches" within New York City limits (between B 67-69 Streets and between B 87-92 Streets).