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Posts Tagged ‘Dreamland’

Time travel back to Coney Island at Night in 1905 and see a panoramic view of the magical lights of Luna Park, Dreamland and Steeplechase. This early time exposure was made by pioneering filmmaker Edwin S. Porter, whose use of panning and the first after-dark photography can be seen in films of the 1901 Pan-Am Exposition in Buffalo. The long, sweeping view of Coney Island’s three great amusement parks ends with the camera panning up and down the Dreamland Tower.

According to Charles Musser’s Before the Nickelodeon: Edwin S. Porter and the Edison Manufacturing Company, Edison acquired “the exclusive privilege” for the 1905 season at Dreamland. Other subjects made by Porter under this contract are Hippodrome Races, Dreamland, Coney Island (June 1905), Mystic Shriners’ Day, Dreamland, Coney Island (July 1905), June’s Birthday Party (July 1905), and Boarding School Girls. In this version of the film, the young ladies of Miss Knapp’s Select School go on an outing to Coney Island where they pass through Dreamland’s Creation gate, frolic in the surf and ride Steeplechase’s camels and mechanical Horse Race.

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Die Cut Tag from Coney Island's Bostock Arena in Dreamland circa 1904. Courtesy of eBay Seller monsonantiques

We’ve been too busy to blog the past few days, much less browse on eBay. Luckily we found out about the auction of this century-old souvenir of Coney Island’s Bostock Arena via the blog ephemera. The circa 1904 tag depicts famed animal trainer and menagerist Frank C Bostock, whose show was a featured attraction at Coney Island’s Dreamland Park. The reverse side of the tag trumpets the 25-cent show as “Positively the Most Wonderful Wild Animal Exhibition in the World” and notes that “All Bostock’s Patrons Enter Dreamland Free.”

Seller monsonantiques has this rare item up for bid on eBay, where four bidders are vying for it in an auction that ends on Wednesday, March 23rd. The high bid is currently over $150, but that’s peanuts. We’ve seen tickets and advertising tags for Coney’s early rides and attractions sell for several hundred dollars. Good luck to everyone who plans to jump in!

Bostock was a third-generation showman who came to New York from his native England in 1893. He and his partners the Ferari Brothers first set up their carnival on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn and then moved to Coney Island. The show featured animal acts, sideshow curiosities, concession games, and such early amusement rides as an English gondola and a carousel.

According to the University of Sheffield’s National Fairground Archive, “The elaborate carved fronts of the wild animal shows Frank Bostock brought from England, some of them made by Burton-upon-Trent company Orton and Spooner, served as the prototype for wagon-mounted show fronts on American carnivals for the next half century.” Since the company toured New England in 1896, historians credit Bostock and his partners with introducing the traveling carnival concept to America. As a former carny kid, this aspect of Bostock’s career holds greater interest for me than his exploits as the best-known lion tamer of his day or his many narrow escapes from death.

If you’d like to read an engaging biographical essay, we recommend “Frank C. Bostock – The Animal King of Abney Park Cemetery.” Bostock died of the flu in England in 1912, more than a year after the fire that destroyed Coney Island’s Dreamland Park. His tomb at Stoke Newington in London is a magnificent marble lion.

UPDATE March 24, 2011:

The tag sold for $386.99 with the winning bid placed in the last few seconds of the auction!

Bostock Arena, Dreamland, Coney Island, N.Y. circa 1905. Library of Congress

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Its still summer...Coney Island is open! Fun for All. Image © brooklynnfoto via flickr

It's still summer...Coney Island is open! Fun for All. Image © brooklynnfoto via flickr

Thanks to graphic designer and Coney Island regular “brooklynnfoto” for creating this impromptu ad for Coney Island. I discovered it on flickr along with the caption “43 rides, a host of attractions…and Nathan’s cheese fries.”

Last week ATZ posted “Coney Island is Open, Only Dreamland is Closed” in response to media coverage of the closure of Dreamland Park that left many people with the impression all of Coney Island was shutdown. Since then, we’ve been barraged by search referrals asking “is Coney Island open?” and “is Coney Island closing?”

Thumbs down to the Brooklyn Paperthumbs down for doing three stories on the closing of Dreamland without even mentioning the fact that the rest of Coney Island is open for business and the attractions that remain. “Coney Island’s biggest amusement park will remain closed this weekend….” begins the Brooklyn Paper’s latest article about the closing of Dreamland. As someone who works in Coney Island I’m very concerned people will think it’s not worth a visit because “the biggest park” is closed. Notified that Dreamland (12 rides) was NOT Coney’s largest park– Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park (22 rides) has that honor– BP has yet to run a correction.

The article’s quote from an outraged visitor contains an error, too. “It’s not right to close down in the middle of the season,” said Richard Vowers of Sheepshead Bay. “It’s going to disappoint a lot of kids. My girlfriend’s son likes the helicopter ride and the train ride.”We have good news for you, Mr. Vowers. The rides mentioned -–the helicopter and the kiddie train—were never in Dreamland. These rides are in Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park which is open through mid-October and will be here for years to come!

Kiddie Helicopter Ride at Denos Wonder Wheel Park, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Kiddie Helicopter Ride at Deno's Wonder Wheel Park, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Thumbs Up to NY1 and the Daily News…
thumsb upNY1 made the same mistake of calling Dreamland “Coney Island’s largest amusement park,” but promptly ran a correction when informed of their error. The Daily News article about the closing of Dreamland quoted the park’s manager saying “Coney Island’s closed now.” But the reporter noted, “That’s not quite true: The Cyclone, Wonder Wheel, and other popular Coney attractions are still up and running.” Thank you!

For year round, up-to-date info on events and attractions, visit Coney Island Fun Guide.

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