October 22, 2007

Luna Park, 1913

Shorpy.com has this great photograph taken in 1913 of Luna Park, an amusement park at Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York City, from 1903 to 1944. One thing that struck me about it is how everyone in the picture is dressed in their very finest. The world those people knew is long gone (not to mention the people, as well).

Shorpy has a couple of other Coney Island photos, including one of The Teaser and Surf Avenue around the same time period.

May 19, 1913. Promenaders at Luna Park, "The Heart of Coney Island." (from Shorpy.com)

From the Wikipedia entry:

Coney Island is a peninsula, formerly an island, in southernmost Brooklyn, New York City, USA, with a beach on the Atlantic Ocean. The eponymous neighborhood is a community of 60,000 people in the western part of the peninsula, with Seagate to its west; Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach to its east; and Gravesend to the north.

The area was a major resort and site of amusement parks that reached its peak in the early 20th century. It declined in popularity after World War II and endured years of neglect. In recent years, the area has been revitalized by the opening of KeySpan Park, home to the successful Brooklyn Cyclones minor league baseball team.

Coney Island became a resort after the Civil War as excursion railroads and the Coney Island & Brooklyn Railroad streetcar line reached the area in the 1860s. With the rail lines, steamship lines and access to the beach came major hotels and public and private beaches, followed by horse racing, amusement parks, and less reputable entertainments such as Three-card Monte, other gambling entrepreneurs, and prostitution.

When the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company electrified the steam railroads and connected Brooklyn to Manhattan via the Brooklyn Bridge at the beginning of the 20th century, Coney Island turned rapidly from a resort to an accessible location for day-trippers seeking to escape the summer heat in New York City's tenements.

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