“Welcome to the cabin by the sea”: the opening of the Sheepshead Bay track

“’We bid you welcome to our cabin by the sea.’”

With these words, the Coney Island Jockey Club announced its existence in September, 1879.  Headed by Leonard Jerome, the club was formed to build a new racetrack in Brooklyn; “the sea” was Sheepshead Bay, in the southwest corner of the borough, and the racetrack that took its name opened in June, 1880.

The track took full advantage of its shorefront location, building, according to an 1880 article in the New York Times, a clubhouse that afforded a “full and commanding view of the ocean, [with] a broad piazza extending along the ocean front of the building.”  Ferries transported customers from the Battery, at the southern tip of Manhattan, and from a dock at East 23rd Street directly to the entrance of the track.

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