Coney Island: 150 Years of Rides, Fires, Floods, the Rich, the Poor and Finally Robert Moses

Front Cover
McFarland, Jul 19, 2016 - History - 208 pages
Before the Civil War, Coney Island boasted a beach, a dozen small hotels with ramshackle bathhouses, some chowder stands and a few saloons. After the war, it was taken over by powerful individuals who made its 0.7 square miles a domain of the wealthy. By 1905, with the population of New York City at four million, the city’s amusement park builders designed an entertainment wonderland on the island that even the poor could enjoy, creating a “nickel empire,” where visitors paid five cents for the subway, five cents for a Nathan’s hot dog and five cents for a ride. In 1910, Coney Island saw 20 million visitors—more than Disneyland and Disney World combined could claim 70 years later, adjusted for population growth. Through the decades, the island has seen changes of fortune, floods and fires, cycles of decay and rehabilitation. Yet the ultimate power on the island was and is the government of the city of New York, which—for good or ill—has made Coney Island what it is today.
 

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Contents

Preface
1
Introduction
3
1 From Sand and Marsh to the Iron Horse
7
2 19thCentury Players
30
3 The Turn of the 20th Century
59
Sea Lion Park Steeplechase Park and Brighton Beach Park
86
5 Luna Park and Dreamland
110
6 The Nickel Empire
137
7 Decline and Rebirth?
163
Chapter Notes
181
Bibliography
193
Index
197
Copyright

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About the author (2016)

William J. Phalen holds a Ph.D. in American history from Rutgers University. He lives in Staten Island, New York.

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