Vintage Allies

Thursday
Oct 02nd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
Home The Decades 1920s Coney Island - Where Merriment Is King

Coney Island - Where Merriment Is King

Coney-Island-10

Pictured above: Coney Island, 1910/Geo. P. Hall & Son , copyright claimant/LOC

Coney Island - an intoxicating lark and the apotheosis of the ridiculous!

VAV!/June 13, 2014

During the turn of the century near Brooklyn, NY, by the edge of the sea and some nine miles from Manhattan, there existed a one of a kind wonderland where anyone could catch a ring on the merry go round, indulge themselves in amusing devices, and eat all the hot dogs they wanted!  The wonderland? Coney Island, the iconic and extraordinary amusement park, of course!  

Between about 1880 and World War II, Coney Island boasted a conglomeration of the largest amusement parks in America, attracting several million visitors per year. At the turn of the century, Coney Island was at its hey day —Sea Lion Park, Steeplechase Park, Luna Park, Dreamland and other smaller parks—offered rides, concessions and entertainment on an intoxicating scale of pleasure that took America from the Victorian Age into the modern world.

Coney-Island-1

Pictured above:Coney Island/Bain News Service/1900/LOC

Amidst brilliant lights that lit the night skies, gay music, whirling dancing, incredible foods, crazy (and we mean crazy) rides including elephant rides, a carousel built for two, roller coasters, loop de loops, freak shows from the four corners of the world, girlie shows, ladies without heads, horrific premature babies on display alongside historical displays, recreations of disasters, moving panorams featuring the end of the world, and Lilliputia, a miniature town truly inhabited by little persons...the money always flowed on Coney Island and the fun never ended !

Coney-Island-Elephant-Rides

Pictured above: Coney Island, Riding Elephant/Bain News Service, publisher/1911 June 18/LOC.

Coney Island sounded grand enough to make anyone pinch themselves in a disbelief intermingled with fascination and yet, the concept was a little frightening too.

 

A closer look at the evolution of Coney Island...

Before its discovery in 1609 by Dutch explorer, Henry Hudson, Coney Island was a mere 5 mile parcel of wasteland and consisted soley of dunes, scrub grass and wild rabbits known as coneys, thus, the name... Coney Island... or so its said.  

In 1829, the first Hotel, Coney Island Hotel, was built on the Island and the Shell Road linked Coney Island with Brooklyn.  By 1847, nefarious forces  ran rampant and Coney Island had gained a reputation as home to disreputable pickpockets, swindlers, prostitutes and ne'er do wells...but not for long.  

Coney Island became an accessible destination once excursion railroads, along with the advent of the Coney Island & Brooklyn Railroad streetcar came into being in the 1860s.

When the 1870s rolled around, Coney Island had come under the vigilant scrutiny and ultimate greed of John Y. McKane, newly elected commissioner.  Through McKanes ideals and efforts, the Island was transformed into a respectable summertime vacation hot spot for families. Hotels began cropping up on the eastern vista of Coney Island with The Brighton Hotel, the luxurious Manhattan Beach Hotel, and Oriental Hotel being built. Fresh water was provided for picnicing visitors and band concerts were held nightly.

Coney-Island-3

Pictured above: Coney Island/Bain News Service, publisher/LOC

Light hearted people from every walk of life began flocking into the Island by droves!  More Island growth came in 1875, when Andrew Culver built the Prospect Park and Coney Island Railroad to the resort and in 1876, a Danish woodcarver, Charles I. D. Loof built the first carousel at Coney Island. The Carousel was erected at Vandeveer's bath-house complex in the area later known as Balmer's Pavilion.  

Right there, available to guests on the island, was  "electric bathing," beneath arc lamps and well, heck, the hot dog (formerly known by its inventor, Charles Feltman, as Coney Island Red Hots) was invented on Coney Island in 1876.  

Coney-Island-Observation-Tower 

Pictured above: Coney Island, N.Y.: Observation Tower/Published: c1900/LOC.

Also in 1876, the observation tower, once featured the Philadelphia Exposition was moved to Coney Island.  The tower, the tallest structure in the United States at the time, featured steam-powered elevators that lifted observers to the top for gazing out upon the vast sea!  What a thrill! But the arrival of the observation tower was just the beginning for Coney Island. 

In 1879, the first horse racing track opened on the Island. 

Once the Iron steamboat company set down on the Island in 1881, two Iron Piers stood stalwart and reassuring while awaiting arriving steamshps bringing people from Manhattan to the Island (the piers were destroyed in a subsequent 1911 Dreamland fire).

In 1884, the gravity fed Switchback Railway was invented by LaMarcus Thompson...the roller coaster was born!  Holy Hannah what else could be coming up aces at Coney Island?!  The Loop de Loop (Loop the Loop) and the awesome, if only short lived, Flip-Flap railway, that's what. 

Between the years of 1885 to 1896, a hotel designed in the form of an elephant became a landmark on Coney Island.  

Coney-Island-2

Pictured above: Coney Island/Bain News Service, publisher/LOC

In 1893, Coney Island was branded by The New York Times as "Sodom-by-the-Sea"  and by then McKane had also become a detriment to Coney Island. Amidst political scandal, the keepers of the island (including Mckane) were ousted and replaced by a more reputable crew of caretakers, most notably George C. Tilyou, a native of Coney Island and a consummate showman.  

Tilyou was ever vigilant in scavenging incredible finds for his Coney Island.  He visited the Chicago World's Fair where he made great efforts to buy George Ferris's 250-foot-tall wheel for the Island, but alas, his efforts were thwarted and he returned home empty handed. Not to be outsmarted or put off his course, after Tilyou arrived back home to Coney he ordered a wheel half the size of the one at Chicago.  In the place where the Ferris Wheel was to be erected, he placed a sign that read "On this site will be erected the world's largest Ferris Wheel."  By the time the wheel contraption had arrived in Coney Island, clever Tilyou had rented out enough concession space to pay for it.

Coney-Island-Luna-Chutes

Pictured above: Chutes - Luna Park, Coney Island/Bain News Service/Published: between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915/LOC

Captain Paul Boyton, (who invented the inflatable rubber suit) opened Sea Lion Park in 1895 and came up with a refreshing little boat ride known as  'shoot-the-chutes.' Cool right?  During the rest of the decade of the 1890s, Coney Island was abloom with wonder,  amazed guests and even proudly proclaimed the title as home to the world's first roller coaster!

Not to be outdone by Sea Lion Park's presence, the irrepressible Tilyou wanted a park of his own.  The answer came to him in the form of  a mechanical horse race in England -  just the perfect fit for Coney Island.  The ride could take thrill seekers on 'Half a mile for half a minute!' The basis for the ride and all that followed became known as the ultra successful Steeplechase Ride Park. Hot Dog!

In 1896, the Edison Company motion picture's new fangled camera was perfected and featured flicks on the Island such as 'Sea Waves and Coney Island' and 'Cake Walk on the Beach.' 

With Steeplechase Park completed in 1897, folks could take a visit on over to the Blowhole Theater, too!  The who?  The Theatre was  New York's longest running show (of almost 70 years) and audiences could gaze on stage upon a couple selected from the audience while a jet of air blew beneath the woman's skirts (right up to her waist) while a dwarf shocked her date with an electric cattle prod. Sounds grand and shocking, but, there was more by way of the Earthquake Float, the Skating Floor, the Falling Statue, the Cave of the Winds, the Human Cage, the Revolving Seat, the Funny Stairway, the Eccentric Fountain, the Dancing Floor, the Electric Seat, the Human Roulette Wheel and dare we say more to make you quivver and tickle your funky bone?

Coney-Island-Bathers-4

Pictured above: Coney Island/Bain News Service, publisher/LOC

Don't forget the bathing on Coney Island was a real attraction, too.  Swimmers could show their off their rocking hard bodies tucked chastely beneath woolen swimsuits and exert their prowess at the same time.  What a way to cool off! Hubba, Hubba!

In the 1900's Coney Island crowds REALLY cut loose!  Some quarter of a million people headed there every Sunday in the summer.  When the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company electrified the steam railroads and connected Coney Island to Brooklyn and Manhattan at the beginning of the 20th century, Coney Island was transformed from a resort to a location accessible daily from New York City, especially to those seeking a refuge from the summer heat.

Coney-Island-Crowds-6

Pictured above: Coney Island/Bain News Service, publisher/LOC

On May 16, 1903, Frederic Thompson, architect and  Elmer "Skip" Dundy, former court clerk from Omaha, built an amusement park on Coney Island complete with towers and turrets and out-of-this-world venues. On the heels of the Park's success, in 1904, Dreamland amusement park, also erected by Thompson and Dundy, opened.  The exhibit featured the Infant Incubator holding and housing premature babies. The babies were under the care of a Doctor Martin Couney.  Questionably, Dreamland was heralded as one of the most popular Parks. 

Elsewhere trouble was brewing on Coney Island's horizon when in 1907, fire broke out at Steeplechase in the Cave of the Winds and the wooden park burned for some 18 hours.  Within nine months the park was rebuilt by Tilyou and re- opened.  This time around,Tilyou ensured the entire park was covered with a modernized glass-and-steel shed and he named the conglomeration the Pavilion of Fun. 

The Sea Beach Line was transformed to a subway line around 1915. In 1916, Nathan's Famous original hot dog stand opened on Coney Island.  Since then, as was possible, on every July 4 thereafter, an annual Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest was held.

It's said that he launching of the New West End Terminal during 1919, heralded one of Coney Island's most prolific ages. could there be any more fun?

In 1923 the Boardwalk opened and the Islands streets were widened.  Let the good times roll as the world's most famous roller coaster,The Cyclone, opened!

In 1944, Luna Park suffered a series of fires and closed in 1946. Following World War II, Coney Island began to slowly but surely lose it's decadent appeal to the ever growing savvy American public. Adding to the attrition of park goers, the 1950s street gangs were moving in and impacting business in a very negative way. The September 20, 1964 closing of the last major amusement park, Steeplechase Park, dealt a devastating death blow to Coney Island. Auld Lang Syne soulfully sounded over the intercom system that closing night and a bell tolled once for each of the 67 years Steeplechase had been open.

Gone, but not forever, were the acrobats and other artists, the spotted horses trotted off and the circus ringmaster had laid down his snapping whip...

In recent years, the historic landmark area has seen a revitalization to its former glory along with the opening of MCU Park, home to the Brooklyn Cyclones minor league baseball team.

 

 

 


blog comments powered by Disqus
Last Updated ( Monday, 16 June 2014 05:08 )  

 

 

Like us on Facebook!

Stock Trader Scroller

Powered by Stock Market News and Money Transfer

 

ROAST BEEF SANDWICH RECIPE

VAV!/September 28, 2014/Contributed by Bobby of The Blog Chef Looking for a fantastic lunch or snack? If so, try this roast beef sandwich. This sandwich is roast beef topped with provolone cheese, lettuce and avocados. The real highlight of this recipe is the spicy mayo, it has just the right amount of kick and adds great flavor to this sandwich. The spicy mayo is a combination of mayonnaise, Tabasco sauce and chopped cilantro. It is important to dip the avocados in lemon juice or else they will turn brown. You might want to hollow out the bread a little to help everything stay in the sandwich (this sandwich is stacked!). This sandwich is so easy to make and so delicious, everyone will love it. It might be even perfect for a football party. Enjoy.

 

The Drop

VAV!/September 26, 2014/Contributed by Stars in Her Eye Dennis Lehane is a master story teller and his genius as an author has not gone unnoticed by Hollywood. Classics such as Mystic River and Shutter Island have been adapted to the big screen by prominent directors. Lehane has lent his talents to the small screen as well as working on The Wire and Boardwalk Empire. For his latest project, one of his short stories comes to life starring Tom Hardy and James Gandolfini. The Drop is based on the short story "Animal Rescue" and, Lehane adapted and expanded it for a feature film. Bob is a quiet bartender whose bar has been taken over by organized crime. The bar is used as a "drop" point, a place where dirty money is held until it can be picked up. When the bar is robbed, Bob and his boss have to deal with the repercussions and angry mobsters.

 

US, Allies Launch Airstrikes On Islamic State Targets In Syria

  VAV!/ Sept. 23, 2014 – WASHINGTON U.S. military forces and partner nations, including Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, undertook military action against ISIL terrorists in Syria overnight, according to a U.S. Central Command news release. A mix of fighters, bombers, remotely piloted aircraft and Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles conducted 14 strikes against ISIL targets. The strikes destroyed or damaged multiple ISIL targets in the vicinity of the towns of Ar Raqqah in north central Syria, Dayr az Zawr and Abu Kamal in eastern Syria and Al Hasakah in northeastern Syria. The targets included ISIL fighters, training compounds, headquarters and command and control facilities, storage facilities, a finance center, supply trucks and armed vehicles, the news release said. The United States employed 47 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles, launched from the USS Arleigh Burke and USS Philippine Sea, which were operating from international waters in the Red Sea and North Arabian Gulf. In addition, U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps fighters, bombers and remotely piloted aircraft deployed to the U.S. Central Command area of operations participated in the airstrikes.

 

Tailgate Parties

Pictured above:  Best Tailgate Party Ever, Spring Break, 2007, New Orleans /Photographer Jeffrey Schwartz/cc/Flickr VAV!/September 28, 2014 It's the ultimate game day experience....the  illustrious Tailgate Party in full swing! For football fans everywhere, fall weekends are a time for tailgating.  Known in some circles as the game before the game, tailgating parties are found on or nearby stadium parking lots, and revolve around an awesome platform for hosting from, whether it's a Subaru Outback or Ram 1500 Sport Crew Cab.   Expect anything from die hard tailgators including Texas big style tents and some pretty awesome equipment to enhance the experience! Take a look at this tricked-out turbo tailgating rig, an ultra-customized 2010 black Toyota Tundra.

 

Tailgate Parties

Pictured above:  Best Tailgate Party Ever, Spring Break, 2007, New Orleans /Photographer Jeffrey Schwartz/cc/Flickr VAV!/September 28, 2014 It's the ultimate game day experience....the  illustrious Tailgate Party in full swing! For football fans everywhere, fall weekends are a time for tailgating.  Known in some circles as the game before the game, tailgating parties are found on or nearby stadium parking lots, and revolve around an awesome platform for hosting from, whether it's a Subaru Outback or Ram 1500 Sport Crew Cab.Take a look at this tricked-out turbo tailgating rig, an ultra-customized 2010 black Toyota Tundra.

Follow Us On

Vintage Allies on Facebook.com Vintage Allies on Twitter.com