This is historical reference material about the various attractions at Coney Island in New York. The material comes from the public domain Ebook titled “Coney Island” by Truax & Company and was produced in 1883. If you enjoy the material below you can download the complete PDF Ebook for FREE by going to the bottom of this post.
What a grand achievement Coney Island is! The attractions offered to the visitor this year are far beyond those of any previous season. The hotel adjoining to the depot formely known as “cables,” was erected in 1875, the first hotel of any importance on Coney Island. It is now managed by Messrs. Doyle & Studenbord, in connection with the large lunch pavilion next to the oceanfront.
Standing in the doorway, our eyes rest upon all kinds of mechanical and amusing contrivances. Among them we see the site of the “Bohemian Glass Blowers,” “Sea on Land,” “Shooting Galleries” and “Rifle Ranges,” “electric batteries,” scales for weighing and testing your height and strength, besides all kinds of accordant and discordant bands and hand-organs blowing and screeching so-called music emanating from various
One young man claims our attention as we near the Iron Pier, shouting to people passing by, “The wonderful ‘Camere’ is now open, showing you all parts of the island for ten cents.” The Camera Obscura. As we got closer to the announcer we heard a more poetical description of this new and exciting attraction. “This wondrous camerea minutely paints old Coney Island’s varied daily drama, Her joyous children, ladies and saints, In one
delightful, living panorama.” We then decide to enter the amusement and ascend the steps to a room and are recognized by Professor Janton, one of the most fluent and social men on the island, and sole proprietor of this wonderful work of genius. We are inclosed in a darkened room, with lenses placed in such a position in the roof that all surrounding objects within range of the lenses are reflected on a white movable canvas disc. “After a few seconds your eyes will become accustomed to the change of light.” “Our first view is the Elevated Railroad; see yonder a train coming in; here the new depot, people coming out; a train has just arrived.” “Step this way,” said the professor. “Here you see the Aquarium, with the ‘fat boy’ and the ‘what is it;’the drive on the Concourse, and Hotel Brighton in the distance; notice, please, the dust from the carriages as they roll along; Mrs Vanderveer’s bathing pavilion; swings in motion; surf breaking in on the beach; step to the left, please. Entrance to the new Iron Pier; see how beautiful the colors show in the flags, and the flowers and vines in the vases; see the wind blowing the flowers and vines in the vases; see the wind blowing the flowers back and forth; step to the left, please. Here is west Brighton Hotel; the wonderful cow that gives both milk and lager; Capt. Pierce, the veteran; try your weight before and after bathing.” “oh, what a shame,” said an elderly lady to her husband at our elbow; “see” (indicating with her parasol), “There is Mrs. _____, our neighbor, standing there with Mr. ______.” “Step this way,” said the professor. “The Sea Beach Palace.” ; “this ends our exhibition.”
As we exit the Camere exhibit our eyes rest upon a new building adjoining the largest steam-propelled “Greco-Roman Carrosselle,” or merry-go-round, in the country. While lost in admiration of this beautifully painted, Chinese pagoda style building, with stained glass of all hues in the extension top, Professor Janton having followed us from the Camere, and tapping our should said: “This is the only ‘Georama’ of this kind in the United States. A capacity to seat thirty people to witness the finest revolving views, true from nature, ever placed before the public. Change of view are made daily from a careful selection of 1,000 choice hand painted scenes by eminent artists of the old world.”
We witness the siege of Paris, and the wonders and beauties of all the principal cities of Europe, Asia, Africa and America, more particularly of Switzerland, Turkey, Italy, Russia, etc., and pronounce it the best and most instructive exhibition of both old and young we have ever seen.
Stepping from the door, we ascend the steps of the Observatory, and iron monster brought at great expense from George’s Hill at Philadelphia during the centennial year by Mr. Culver, standing 300 feet above the sea level. A person in our group states, “How wonderful to note the mighty power contained in this extensive tower; what a grand object! Rising in the noontide sun with a great centennial iron skeleton. High over the sands this huge but graceful form bids calm defiance to the fiercest storm. We mount the car, she gracefully ascends; The landscape widens as she upward tends. We soon will gain the upper platform high, which seems to hold communion with the sky: Gaze, ponder well on land and flood below, nor deem yourself the more attractive show. Here friends assemble at their sailing hour, to view the steamships from the Iron Tower; perchance to watch, with sadness and dismay, the ship that bears some loved one far away.”
Arriving at the top landing we leave the car and step upon the broad platform, and ascend a flight of winding stairs which lead us to the top. We look in wonder at the panorama below us. Coney Island in all its grandeur lies beneath our feet; our eyes scan the zig-zag course of the narrow creek reaching from the “Point” to “Sheepshead Bay,” distinctly marking the formation and separation of Coney Island from the Mainland. Sounds of all kinds reach our ears from the clangor below; the Concourse, covered with myriads of people moving vehicles, curves gracefully inside of the surf line; while the palatial hotels appear like miniature buildings in a fairy-land. An immense telescope surmounts this loft tower, with lenses of powerful magnitude and penetrating power, reaching as far as Long Branch, a distance of 25 miles south; Highlands of Neversink, 13 miles; Sand Hook, 8 mile; Point Comfort, 13 miles; Keyport, 17 miles; Norton’s Point, 2 miles west. After we’ve enjoyed the beauty of the surrounding sights, we descend in the car and the landscape gradually fades from our view, and objects which before seemed miniature now assume their proper proportions.
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