Dive Into the New Coney Island Aquarium

  • The Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the aquarium, unveiled new designs for a $150 million expansion designed by New York firm Edelman Sultan Knox Wood.

  • The Battery aquarium closed in the 1940s and moved out to Coney Island boardwalk the following decade. A groundbreaking was held in 1954.

  • At its height, the aquarium attracted 2 million visitors a year, almost three times as many people as now visit.

  • Opened in 1896 inside Castle Clinton at Battery Park, the New York Aquarium was the first in the nation.

  • The diminutive entrance to the aquarium. The boardwalk was not always a savory place, so access was limited to keep out the riffraff.

  • The facilities have grown over the years, a complex of different attractions.

  • A seal pool was added in 1979, for example.

  • The new aquarium was envisioned as part of a larger redevelopment effort for the entire boardwalk led by the Bloomberg administration. This entry was designed by Smith-Miller Hawkinson.

  • As such, perhaps the aquarium's best-known attraction is the imposing wall that runs along the boardwalk. It is adorned with a pleasant mural but is still not entirely inviting.

  • The aquarium chose its winner in 2007, selecting the work of WRT and Cloud 9. It looked like a whale or a giant net or a fluttering jellyfish or any other number of aquatic images.

  • In 2006, the WCS held a competition for a new aquarium that would integrate it better with the boardwalk and neighboring amusements. This entry is from West 8 and WXY Architecture.

  • Ultimately, the plan—seen here from the boardwalk—was set aside because it was deemed too expensive.

  • The ultimate design, while not as flashy as some of its predecessors, remains a creative, affordable option that will provide views of the boardwalk and the ocean.

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