Written By: Ben Cosgrove

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.

As the Cyclone advances further into its 10th decade of life — the 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 so many years of, well, ups and downs, there’s no place else quite like it.

Liz Ronk edited this gallery for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.

Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York, 1944.

Coney Island, New York, 1944.

Marie Hansen The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

The Coney Island Cyclone, 1944.

The Coney Island Cyclone, 1944.

Marie Hansen The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Coney Island, 1943.

Coney Island, 1943.

Ralph Morse The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Coney Island, 1949

Coney Island, 1949.

Andreas Feininger The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Coney Island, 1943.

Coney Island, 1943.

Ralph Morse The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Coney Island, 1949

Coney Island, 1949.

Andreas Feininger The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Coney Island, 1943.

Coney Island, 1943.

Ralph Morse The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

The Gryro Globe ride, a metal monster which simultaneously spun and tilted its victims, Coney Island, 1949.

The Gryro Globe ride, a metal monster which simultaneously spun and tilted its victims, Coney Island, 1949.

Andreas Feininger The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Coney Island, 1949

Coney Island, 1949.

Andreas Feininger The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Coney Island, 1943.

Coney Island, 1943.

Ralph Morse The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Coney Island, 1943.

Coney Island, 1943.

Ralph Morse The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Coney Island, 1943.

Coney Island, 1943.

Ralph Morse The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

The Parachute Jump along the boardwalk at Coney Island, 1951.

The Parachute Jump along the boardwalk at Coney Island, 1951.

Margaret Bourke-White The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Coney Island, 1942.

Coney Island, 1942.

William Vandivert The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Coney Island, 1943.

Coney Island, 1943.

Ralph Morse The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Coney Island, 1949.

Coney Island 1949

Andreas Feininger The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Coney Island, 1942.

Coney Island, 1942.

William Vandivert The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Coney Island, 1949.

Coney Island, 1949.

Andreas Feininger The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Coney Island, 1942.

Coney Island, 1942.

William Vandivert The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

More Like This

Haglia Sophia destinations

Uncovering Ancient Christian Mosaics

Rocky Mountain Road Trip destinations

The Highs of a Rocky Mountain Road Trip, 1959

Florence, Italy destinations

Florence, A Marvel Of Enduring Power

A Tahitian woman walking her horse through the jungle. destinations

Stunning Photographs of Islands That Inspired Great Works of Art

Grand Canyon National Park in color, 1947. destinations

The Grand Canyon: Stunning Color Photographs From 1947

Skiers at Mount Snow in Vermont, 1957. destinations

Skiing’s Early Days as a Popular American Pastime