Entertainment and Technology at Coney Island
"It's staggering concentration of resources and mechanical devices deployed purely for the purpose of pleasure was unprecedented"- Michael Immerso
The interaction of entertainment and technology at Coney Island represented the social and mechanical development of the early 1900s. The two concepts coincided with a fantasy-like worldview to create an amusement park that offered a new collective experience for the masses. Developments in transportation initiated this experience as routes to Coney Island popped up all over the map. Streetcars, railways, and steamboats provided cost efficient and speedy rides to Coney Island, which, as a result, became more accessible to the general public. Upon arriving at Coney Island, patrons were overwhelmed by bright lights, bizarre expositions, and grandiose structures. The meaning assigned to the illumination was somewhat practical, but mostly emotional (Register, 133). Lighting set the mood for mythical encounters in the street, as well as dramatic presentations in the playhouse. In the street, freak shows attracted the attention of every passer-by. In the playhouse, girlie shows attracted the attention of men and women. Abandoning the bourgeois Victorian values of the past, the crowds at Coney Island were easily amused by displays of grotesque, supernatural, and pleasurable things. At the same time, scientific experiments, which were traditionally performed in a laboratory setting, took center stage in the park’s public theater. The infant incubator building was one of the most popular exhibits at Coney Island. However, no one could deny that the most famous spectacles at Coney Island were the rides- the switch back, shoot the chutes, the wonder wheel, and the loop-the-loop. Technology was the foundation of entertainment, and entertainment was the foundation of Coney Island.