Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York, 1944.
Coney Island, New York, 1944.Marie Hansen—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York, 1944.
The Coney Island Cyclone, 1944.
Coney Island, 1943.
Coney Island, 1949
Coney Island, 1943.
Coney Island, 1949
Coney Island, 1943.
The Gryro Globe ride, a metal monster which simultaneously spun and tilted its victims, Coney Island, 1949.
Coney Island, 1949
Coney Island, 1943.
Coney Island, 1943.
Coney Island, 1943.
The Parachute Jump along the boardwalk at Coney Island, 1951.
Coney Island, 1942.
Coney Island, 1943.
Coney Island, 1949.
Coney Island, 1942.
Coney Island, 1949.
Coney Island, 1942.
Coney Island, New York, 1944.
Marie Hansen—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
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Coney Island: Classic Photos From America's Original Playground

Jun 24, 2014

Not many places in America have, for so long, been so dedicated to the pursuit of fun as the mile-long stretch along the southern edge of Brooklyn known as Coney Island. Luna Park, Astroland, the world-famous Cyclone roller coaster -- for well over a century, these names helped define what amusement parks were, while their attractions and thrills still inform what summertime entertainment looks, feels and sounds like.

Here, on the anniversary of the Cyclone's 87th birthday -- the legendary wooden coaster opened for business on June 26, 1927 -- LIFE.com presents a series of pictures that celebrate the unique, messy, vibrant energy of Coney Island. Even today, after decades of ups and downs, there's no place else quite like it.

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.

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