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Coney Island, Luna Park at Night 1905

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Published on 04 Dec 2021 / In Travel and Events

Luna Park, Coney Island, Brooklyn
Released June 29, 1905 - Edison Manufacturing Co.
Directed by Edwin S. Porter
Music: Eric Beheim

Hully Gee! Ain't that just Grand?

The film starts with a sweeping panoramic view of Fred Thompson's Luna Park. The lit sign for Feltman's Restaurant can be seen scrolling across the bottom 0:27. Here is where German immigrant Charles Feltman began selling the original Coney Island Caviar a.k.a. the 'hot dog' on a bun in 1870.
At 0:35 George C. Tilyou's Steeplechase Park, the Great Grand Daddy of amusement parks, followed by close-up shots of Luna Park commencing at 0:48 with the wings to the entrance of 'Dragon's Gorge' and the Kaleidoscope Tower at 1:20. At 2:07 the film ends with a vertical pan of the elegant 375 foot tall Dreamland Tower belonging to Thompson's competitor William H. Reynolds.
The impact of Coney at night in 1905 must have been absolutely stunning and astounding. Even Longacre Square, recently renamed 'Times Square' the year before, had a way to go before becoming the "Great White Way" ablaze with lights. There was also the new electric subway system between City Hall and Harlem which opened the previous October: Broadway had been lit electrically since 1900. All of that electricity and rapid transportation was giving birth to the 'night life' and quickly transforming New York into "the city that never sleeps". -TR

☛ "Strange and colorful shapes were now taking form as the hope for Coney's improvement were realized.
Nearly a quarter of a million electric lights were turned on the first evening. Over forty thousand persons visited the twenty-two acre park within two hours after its opening. Admission was ten cents. The initial cost for Luna was about $700,000, but expenses grew as the park was improved with new additions.
Luna's lights and multi-colored buildings were so impressive that Maxim Gorki, a Russian novelist who had visited the park stated:
'With the advent of night a fantastic city all of fire suddenly rises from the ocean into the sky. Thousands of ruddy sparks glimmer in the darkness, limning in fire, sensitive outline on the black background of the sky shapely towers of miraculous castles, palaces and temples. Golden gossamer threads tremble in the air. They intertwine in transparent flaming patterns, which flutter and melt away, in love with their own beauty mirrored in the waters. Fabulous beyond conceiving, ineffably beautiful, is this fiery scintillation.' "
- Gravesend / The Home of Coney Island - Eric J. Ierardi

☛ ''Beside the million incandescent lamps which make the enclosure at nighttime the brightest spot on the whole terrestrial sphere, there is the Kaleidoscope Tower where 80,000 electric lights go through as many changes every second. These lights take the form of fifty different geometrical effects, which in turn go through 1,100 changes before they repeat. The tower is the only thing of its kind in existence, and is in many ways the most extraordinary electrical display ever made.''
- Luna Park souvenir program (Library of Congress)

☛ ''I have built Luna Park on a definite architectural plan, I have eliminated all classic, conventional forms in its structure, and taken a sort of free Renaissance and Oriental type for my model, using spires and minarets whenever I could. . . . . It is marvelous what you could do in the way of arousing human emotions by the use that you make, architecturally, of simple lines! Luna Park is built on that theory, and the result has proved the theory's truth.''
- Fred Thompson

☛ "Do you know," he said, "I am deeply fascinated by all these toys. For, of course, you perceive that they are really enlarged toys. They reinforce me in my old opinion that humanity only needs to be provided for ten minutes with a few whirligigs and things of the sort, and it can forget at least four centuries of misery. I rejoice in these whirligigs," continued the stranger, eloquently, "and as I watch here and there a person going around and around or up and down, or over and over, I say to myself that whirligigs must be made in heaven."
-excerpt from 'Coney Island's Failing Days' by Stephen Crane / New York Press 14 October 1894

"If Paris is France, then Coney Island, between June and September, is the world" -George C. Tilyou

...and later that summer, Miss Knapp's Boarding School Girls take a day trip to Brooklyn's 'Electric Eden':

"Heaven: The Coney Island of the Christian imagination" -Elbert Hubbard

01/01/12 - 54

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