Saturday, August 19, 2023

Saturday's postcard: Coney Island's long-gone Dreamland

I've written before about postcards featuring some of the attractions from a century or more ago at Coney Island (Part 1, Part 2).

This is card was published by I. Stern of Brooklyn, New York, prior to the start of the split-back postcards in 1907. (The back of this card is for the address, only.)

It offers a spectacular view of Dreamland, which was only in operation for a relatively short time in the grand scale of amusement parks — 1904 to 1911. It opened as a direct competitor to Luna Park. But a devastating fire in May 1911 ripped through the wooden structures and brought an end to the Dream. By 1921, the site was a parking lot. 

The large central tower shown on this postcard was called Beacon Tower and was illuminated with many electric lights at night. (I've read estimates of the number of bulbs that range wildly from 44,000 to 1 million.) At around 375 feet, it may have been the tallest structure on Coney Island at the time. Here's a short excerpt from Jeffrey Stanton's excellent history of Dreamland:
"Beacon Tower ... was a replica of the famous Giralda tower of Seville, Spain. The 50 foot square tower that cost $100,000 to construct was painted pure white and studded with 44,700 electric bulbs that made it a tower of light after dusk. Electricity costs were $1 per minute. A rotating searchlight at its top was a beacon for all of New York City. Unfortunately its alternating red and white beam too closely resembled that of Norton Point's lighthouse. The city feared that it would lure ships onto Coney Island's beaches and ordered it removed. Visitors could ascend via two elevators to its observation deck for a magnificent 50 mile view including all of Coney Island and in the distance the island of Manhattan."

No comments:

Post a Comment