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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • UNFAIR TO BABIES, 1936

In Dreamland: 1905

In Dreamland: 1905

Coney Island, New York, circa 1905. "In Dreamland." Meet you over at Canals of Venice. 8x10 inch glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

 

Scads of men & women, few children

I love these photos of places like this from the past century. But one thing struck me as I scanned this one. I notice hundreds of men and women but relatively few children. I realize it might be Saturday or Sunday (still, where are the kids?). But if not, what are all these men (most women of the higher classes stayed at home) wandering around an amusement park on a work day? I hear how hard and long men, as well as many children,worked, that the "family vacation" as we know it didn't exist. Are all these people of the moneyed, leisure class? Many of these men are unaccompanied by a lady or a child, yet stroll around by the score. Are they truly awestruck by this boardwalk magnificence or checking out the place before allowing wife and kinder to come? Most puzzling.

[These weren't "amusement parks" in the present-day sense of a place where one took one's children and put them on rides; many, if not most, of the attractions were designed to entertain adults.- tterrace]

Wood

The entire structure is probably all wood, and most likely received a fresh coat of paint every spring. Also, I highly doubt that it is 37 stories high. Just my opinion.

[According to the New York Times, the steel-and-stucco observation tower, "an imposing edifice of white and gold in the French Renaissance style," was 370 feet tall, had two elevators that carried passengers to an observation deck, and 50-by-50-foot base "profusely decorated with bas-reliefs by Perry Hinton." If the tallest man at the base is 6 feet tall, the tower, based on its relative height, would rise around 230 feet; if the base really is 50 feet wide, more like 250 feet. - Dave]

Taller Than You Think

I've seen the Dreamland Tower many times on Shorpy, but I never thought of it as particularly tall; maybe 5 stories or so, but this time I noticed the folks walking around underneath it and realized that the photos have not captured the scale very well. It took a little research to find, but turns out the tower was 375 feet high, or about the height of a 37-story building. The arches at the deck level are 50 feet tall alone. All in all, pretty impressive for 1904! The tower held a 600,000 gallon water storage tank for fighting fires, all to no avail, it turns out. The entire place burned to the ground only 7 years after opening.

"Within 3 Pounds"

The tripod set up in the right foreground appears to be a "Guess Your Weight" scale.

 
THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG
Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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