That edge certainly makes Rockaway the better beach; otherwise, I believe Coney Island is still the better destination, especially if you are bringing the kids. Clean sand and surf are a wonderful draw, but there is nothing else for the kids to do at Rockaway. The many amusements and attractions at Coney Island promise a day of fun for the whole family. I guess it really depends on what you are seeking in your day away from the city.
This lone house is a reminder of the way it used to be as it stands defiantly amongst the looming hulks of the apartment houses.
Over all, it was a sad return for me to Rockaway Beach. As I walked along the boardwalk, the elegant old houses that used to face the ocean were mostly gone. The old houses have been replaced with those large multi-level dwellings. Even the Ram's Horn Diner, a fixture on B 116th Street for many years, is gone and replaced by a bank. The more things change the more they stay changed, I guess.
Something seems to be missing at today's Rockaway Beach. Perhaps it was the mystique of an "Irish Town" that no longer exists, or maybe it is the thrill of seeing the old amusement park even in its fading glory. I was reading about how Mayor Bloomberg does want to improve the area, and while his Rockaway Waterfront Redesign project does sound promising, it does not bring back the amusement park or the atmosphere that once had people coming to spend their summer vacations here.
I guess we cannot expect things to stay the same, and I do grudgingly admit that the beach at Rockaway Beach is better than the one at Coney Island, but I'll leave it up to you to go see both places for yourself to decide where you'd rather spend the day.