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‘Five Cents to Dreamland’: Transit Museum opens exhibit on transit to Coney Island

June 30, 2016 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
This 1896 photo titled “A Holiday Crowd Bound for Coney Island, Ulmer Park and Bath Beach,” shows how the trolley cars of that era were barely able to accommodate the huge crowds bound for the seashore. Photos courtesy of New York Transit Museum
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From horse-drawn streetcars, steamboats and railroads to the buses and subways of today, mass transportation has played a pivotal role in Coney Island’s development from a secluded vacation spot to a world-famous amusement area.

Opening on Saturday, July 2, the Downtown Brooklyn-based New York Transit Museum’s new exhibition, “Five Cents to Dreamland: A Trip to Coney Island” explores how transportation to Coney Island has changed and developed with the times. Dreamland itself was a famous but short-lived amusement park in Coney that burned down in a spectacular fire in 1911.

Through objects and images from the museum’s collections, “Five Cents to Dreamland” traces the evolution of public transportation in Brooklyn, focusing on routes people took to get to the amusement mecca.  New York and Sea Beach Railroad tickets from 1880, vintage Coney Island destination signs and postcards dating as far back as the late 19th century offer a glimpse of the vital role mass transit played in transforming Coney Island from a summer vacation destination to a year-round neighborhood and world-famous icon.

Visitors will also have the opportunity to view patent drawings for the world’s first roller coasters and, for a fun twist, to see their distorted reflection in a wacky funhouse mirror.  

“Five Cents to Dreamland” is the first in a three-part series of exhibitions and programs showing how transportation has influenced the development of New York City. Next year, exhibitions will focus on the impact of the 7 train on Queens and the role of the Fulton Ferry in spurring the development of Downtown Brooklyn.

The museum is located within the former Court Street subway station. The museum’s entrance can be found at the corner of Boerum Place and Schermerhorn Street.

In conjunction with the exhibit, the Transit Museum will present a series of panels, tours and gallery talks that explore Coney Island-related themes and topics. Curators of the exhibit will present gallery talks on Friday, July 15 and Friday, Aug. 26, both from 2 to 3 p.m. 

In addition, the museum’s fleet of R1/9 cars from the 1930s will head out to Coney Island for a nostalgia ride on Sunday, July 31, on a trip that will last from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The museum is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and is closed on Mondays, major holidays and for special events. General admission is $7 for adults, $5 for children 2-17 years old, $5 and free on Wednesdays for senior citizens 62 years and up and free for museum members.

For more information on hours, admission and directions, and to learn more about museum exhibits in general, visit



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