The road now known as Coney Island Avenue has been in existence since the early 1820s, when a  north-south road was laid out in eastern Gravesend running south to the Atlantic Ocean. In 1850, it was considerably lengthened, with wood planks laid out to assist wagon traffic, from about 16th Street southeast and south to the ocean; it was tolled and named the Coney Island Plank Road. The toll lasted until 1876, when the Coney Island and Brooklyn Railroad built tracks for a horsecar line that would bring passengers from Prospect Park south to seaside resorts at Coney Island. The route was electrified as a trolley route in 1890, and lasted until 1955. The B68 bus on the present Coney Island Avenue follows the old trolley route nearly exactly.

Coney Island Avenue today runs through Kensington, Parkville, western Midwood, eastern Gravesend, and Coney Island. A couple of decades after the Coney Island Plank Road was extended north to the Prospect Park area, a new street grid was built in southeast Brooklyn and what had been farmland became urbanized. For most of its length, Coney Island Avenue stands in for East 11th Street, though it’s truly parallel to the grid only¬†between Foster Avenue and Kings Highway.

This view looks north on Coney Island Avenue from the Belt Parkway, and the elevation is high enough to view midtown Manhattan. I recognize the King of All Buildings on the left, and the Chrysler Building center right, but help me out here — what’s the building just west of the Chrysler?


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  1. Ken B. says:

    Perspective, over a long distance, can get quite confusing. If you triangulate from Coney Island Avenue and the Belt Parkway up to the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building you will get a small pie-shaped area that runs through Prospect Park, Fort Greene and the lower East Side north of the Williamsburg Bridge. I don’t believe that there any buildings in that part of Manhattan of that height and bulk. I suspect that the building in questions is probably much closer in Brooklyn, making it appear, in contrast with the Chrysler Building, much larger than it really is. That being said, I have no idea what building it is! Any help from our Brooklyn friends?

  2. Joseph Ditta says:

    Isn’t is the MetLife building behind Grand Central?

  3. Gio Balistreri says:

    Judging from the angle of the picture, it seems that is “One57” on 57th Street, (that is, if you don’t mean the Metlife Building just West of the Chrysler), the tallest residential building in NYC.

  4. Bill Mitchell says:

    That would be the MetLife Building, formerly the PanAm Building, just west of the Chrysler Building.

  5. Jill-O says:

    Whatever y’all are calling the old PanAm Building these days…is it still MetLife?

  6. EW3 says:

    Looks to be the old Pan Am building.

  7. Johannah Turner says:

    The Pan Am building. Now Met-Life.

  8. Larry says:

    The PCC High Speed trolleys used on Coney Island Avenue until 1955 were wonderful to ride and get the sea breeze from…

  9. Matthew says:

    Yeah Metlife building above Grand Central

  10. JOEL says:

    GeeWiz talk about awaking the grey cells,we lived on Seabreeze Av(across from the park)and took the street car to the Dodger games and the car took CI Av after the trun at the Lincolin Savings Bank…then to the Grand Amry Plaz then we walked to Ebbets Field(sometimes took the Brighton Local home)moved to Rockaway after the Dodgers left,then…..moved away from NYC in 1978….anyone building a time travel device??????????????????

  11. Edward says:

    Originally the plank road never got as far as Bartel-Pritchard Square. Before Prospect Park was developed, Coney Island Plank Road took a sharp bend east, roughly following Center Drive to Flatbush Avenue about where the zoo is today. When the park was developed, that section of road was closed. A circle was built (but no island like Pritchard Square or Park Circle – just pavement) at the present intersection of PPSW, the park entrance, and Sixteenth Street. South of this circle it was Coney Island Avenue, north of it was Fifteenth Street. Sometime in the 20th century Fifteenth Street and Coney Island Avenue between Park Circle and Bartel – Pritchard Square was renamed Prospect Park Southwest.

  12. Dr A. J. Lepere says:

    Coney Island avenue terminates in what I consider Brighton Beach, not Coney Island. I know that, technically, Manhatten Beach and Brighton Beach are located on Coney Island, but from a neighberhood perspective it is Brighton Beach.


  13. BillyG says:

    3 buildings, just right of center:

    One57, PanAm, Chrysler.


  14. Allan Rosen says:

    The original Coney Island Avenue trolley route turned from Brighton Beach Avenue south into a private fenced off right of way now called Beach Walk (where there is still no traffic permitted) adjacent to Parkway Baths. One block south near the boardwalk it turned west onto SeaBreeze Avenue where it terminated at the West 5th Street Depot. Before the 1920s, it terminated south of Brighton Beach Avenue adjacent to the race track.

    • Allan Rosen says:

      Also, in the some trolleys ran past 15 Street along Prospect Park West and along 9th Street. In the summer, some turned east at Park Circle and operated on Ocean Avenue, up Franklin Avenue and turned east on Gates Avenue. There may have been other routes as well. So to say the current bus route nearly follows the trolley route is not entirely accurate since more than one trolley line, like up to a half dozen routes, used Coney Island Avenue during the trolleys peak period before buses became popular, especially during the summer.

  15. xsloper says:

    What about the railroad buildings that were at 16th st & coney island plank pre-1890? The Prospect Park & Coney Island RR horses and such?

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