Manhattan Beach was created by real estate developer Austin Corbin (1827-1896) in 1877 as a self-contained summer resort on 500 acres of salt marsh, the eastern peninsula of what was once Coney Island. Visitors stayed at the Oriental Hotel and the Manhattan Beach Hotel and attended concerts by bandmaster John Philip Sousa who composed the Manhattan Beach March, in 1893, to commemorate the resort. Corbin was the president of the Long Island Railroad from 1880 until his death.
The opening of amusement parks coupled with the closing of racetracks in 1910, in nearby Coney Island, led to the swift decline of the hotels. Residential development began in the area in 1907, redefining the character of the neighborhood. Today, Manhattan Beach, whose streets are arranged in alphabetical order from Amherst to Pembroke and named after places in England, is home to approximately 7,000 people. The land on this site was originally acquired by the Federal Government in 1942 for a Coast Guard and Maritime Training Station. After eight years of negotiations, this 16-acre waterfront property was transferred to New York State. It was turned over to the City for park purposes in 1951. An additional 24.4 acres were acquired in 1954. The park opened to the public on July 15, 1955 and was welcomed as an alternative to the crowded beaches of Coney Island.
The children of Manhattan Beach have had a seaside resort of their own at the Manhattan Beach Playground since it was renovated in 1997 under a $778,000 capital project funded by Borough President Golden and Councilmember Anthony D. Weiner. New features include modular play equipment, benches and shade trees, swings, a water fountain, a sprinkler system, as well as animal art and wrought-iron fencing depicting decorative motifs of ocean and marine life.
Every May and June, horseshoe crabs emerge from the Atlantic Ocean onto Manhattan Beach. Female horseshoe crabs arrive on the beach to lay their eggs, with their male counterparts literally in tow. Males grasp onto the back of the female’s shell using their specially adapted, hooked legs, sometimes two, three, or four males onto one female. When they arrive on the beach, female horseshoe crabs dig a hole in the sand and lay up to 20,000 tiny olive-green eggs inside. The males then rush to be the first to fertilize.
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