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Coney Island Characters: 1903

New York circa 1903. "Steeplechase Park, Coney Island." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

New York circa 1903. "Steeplechase Park, Coney Island." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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Windmills of your mind

Having been reared on a farm my eye was first drawn to the windmill atop the water tower. I believe this is the first time I have ever seen one in a city. Next my eye was drawn to all the craziness and the windmill was soon forgotten.

Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head

The large headed man and woman are Irish caricatures.

Startled here. Startled there.

There is certainly a lot to scare a person in this picture. At least it scares me.

Reading other comments has left me wondering. Is that monkey not riding the cow? That is what I thought. And what the heck is that boy behind the cows doing? Looks like he has an air hose. Like the kind at the gas station? And the man with the duck? Looks like a clown to me and you never know with those guys.

The razzle dazzle looks like it might make me "gag"gle. Was glad to hear it is rocked by people and not spun at high speed with no safety gear.

The whole thing rather strikes me as a stage door sort of shot. Like someone got a candid shot of people arriving for work. Oh! And I can't believe that they had to hold up their umbrellas!


is the word that springs to mind studying this photo. Half the things in this picture would scare the bejeebers out of my granddaughters today.

Gus Visser is another thing altogether, I really don't want to know what he had to do to get the duck to quack on cue like that.


Razzle Dazzle, 1891. Patented by William Mangels; built by McCullough. Circular swing for 70 people -- pushed by workers like a seesaw.

Sound like fun? No seat belts.

Fresh & Ready to Amuse

The shadows are fairly long, and with a few maintenance men still on the grounds, it seems the park had just opened on a brilliant sunny day.

The Far Side

This entire street scene, especially that guy with the duck, immediately reminds me of a Gary Larson cartoon:


Oddball group we have here. I wonder if the guy in the far back would let you pet his monkey?


For a split second I thought one of the "characters" was a two-headed cow.

A man and his duck

Perhaps this guy was part of a duck performance continuum that also produced Gus Visser:


That's an Adams vending machine selling Tutti-Frutti chewing gum, just to the left of the ticket-seller. Tutti-Frutti was the first gum to be sold in a vending machine.

In 1871, Adams patented a gum-making machine and in 1888 patented a gum vending machine.

Oh, to live in a day

... when "Babeskin Soap" was a perfectly innocent name, and nobody even thought twice about whether or not the Razzle Dazzle passed state inspection!

I noticed the white substance too -- it sort of leads in the general direction of the man perched precariously on the ladder up against one of the pillars near the center. Perhaps a leaky bag of plaster?

A mess

A problem with leakage of some white powdery substance? Note the tracks in white on the boardwalk. Characters in costume are interesting. I presume the top hatted one would represent Leprechaun but the other? They remind me of Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum from "Alice in Wonderland," the Disney version.


A lot of things here could use explaining, but nothing so much as the man with the duck.

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