Coney Island • Bruce Gilden • Magnum Photos

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Society

Coney Island

Capturing 20 years of sunbathers, revellers and visitors at New York's iconic beach

Bruce Gilden

Bruce Gilden Crowds of people clustered together on the beach. Coney Island, New York, USA. 1977. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos
Bruce Gilden A family walks along the crowded boardwalk. Coney Island, New York, USA. 1986. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos
Bruce Gilden A family walks along the boardwalk. Coney Island, New York, USA. 1986. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos
Bruce Gilden Woman on beach pointing at a man near her. Coney Island, New York, USA. 1986. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos
Bruce Gilden An overweight man and his friend sunbathe on the beach. Coney Island, New York, USA. 1986. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos
Bruce Gilden A couple embraces on the boardwalk by the beach. Coney Island, New York, USA.1977. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos
Bruce Gilden Two overweight men baring their bellies while sunbathing on the boardwalk. Coney Island, New York, USA.1977. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos
Bruce Gilden Man exercising on the beach. Coney Island, New York, USA.1977. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos
Bruce Gilden Three men in bathing suits walk along the beach. Coney Island, New York, USA. 1969. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos
Bruce Gilden The bare backs of men walking down the street, casting shadows on the people in front of them. Coney Island, New York, USA, 1976. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos
Bruce Gilden Old man and muscle man on the beach. Coney Island, New York, USA, 1976. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos
Bruce Gilden Men exercise and sunbathe on the beach in the winter. Coney Island, New York, USA, 1976. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos
Bruce Gilden Woman with a scarred face sunbathes on the beach. Coney Island, New York, USA, 1977. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos
Bruce Gilden Man sleeping with mouth open. Coney Island, New York, USA, 1977. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos
Bruce Gilden A couple sits on the sidewalk at the beach. Coney Island, New York, USA, 1977. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos
Bruce Gilden Fellini. Coney Island, New York, USA, 1969. © Bruce Gilden | Magnum Photos

Sitting on the outskirts of the five boroughs, the world famous pleasure beach of Coney Island has been the summer destination for New Yorkers since its heyday in the 1890s.

Towards the end of the 1960s, one year after he first picked up a camera, Bruce Gilden took the subway train to Brooklyn to capture the sunbathers, the weekenders, the sideshow booths and the Cyclone rollercoaster.

Coney Island’s reputation has steadily slipped since Gilden started to photograph there, and is now known as a place where the poor that are unable to escape the summer city heat go for thrills. Regardless of this reputation, Gilden’s ability to eke out the characters and eccentricities gives us a humorous view of daily life on the beach and its surrounding neighborhood from the 1960s up to the late 1980s.