Tag Archives: dreamland coney island

Dreamland:Shoot-the-Chutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

William Reynolds understood that the Shoot-the-Chutes were one of the biggest draws at Luna Park and he decided to copy the ride for his park. In fact, that was his theory when building much of the park. Many rides, from the Chutes, the Fighting Flames (a copy of Fire and Flames) to Bostock’s Circus (Luna had elephants) were only some of the similarities between the parks.  (Photo Courtesy The Library of Congress)

Dreamland Shoot the Chutes

 

 

 

 

Nighttime has descended on Dreamland. This view is looking up at the chutes. Beyond that the ocean is rumbling endlessly.

Dreamland Shoot the Chutes 1909

 

 

 

 

 

The Leap-Frog Railway as seen from the Chutes.  The Strand (1905, page 782) magazine said, “Not since the dawn of the railway era has a means been devised by which a railway collision might be rendered positively void of danger.  However, with the ingenuity and genius of the modern inventor it is not so surprising, perhaps, that a system should ultimately come forward in which collisions should be looked upon not only as without danger but as part of the actual journey.”  Despite the flowery prose, the railway never worked that well.

Dreamland: Panoramic Views of Dreamland & Coney Island

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is Dreamland and Coney at its best. The sun has started to set and there is an air of excitement in the air. Dreamland’s 1,000,000 lights have begun to burn brightly into the night, inviting onlookers from Surf Avenue.  (Photo Courtesy Library of Congress)

 

 

 

 

 

This postcard was taken from the ocean.  The tower to the left is the Centennial observation tower, which was from the Philadelphia Exposition.  The other tower is Dreamland’s and it is shining its beacon out to sea.

 

 

 

 

 

A similar view to the photos above and below. This one is kind of bland, but not of bad quality considering when it was taken.

 

 

 

 

 

The Dreamland Tower has turned on its beacon, so the spotlight heads out into the warm Atlantic night.tos above and below. This one is kind of bland, but not of bad quality considering when it was taken.

This is a wonderful view of all of Coney. To the far left is Steeplechase and in the distance one can see the spires of Luna Park.  (Photo Courtesy the Library of Congress)

Dreamland: The Fire

A panoramic view from across Surf Avenue. Working left to right we see:
1: “Bauer Sisters- Burned out but still doing Business”
2: “Living Freaks”
3: The remnants of the Dreamland Tower
4: “Dreamland’s Animal Arena”
5: The Giant Racer Roller Coaster, untouched by the fire
(Photo courtesy the Library of Congress)

At two in the morning on May 27, 1911 workers worked in Dreamland’s Hell Gate attraction, preparing it for opening day only a few hours away.  A few light bulbs burst, buckets of tar were tipped over and shortly Hell Gate was engulfed in flames.  The fire spread quickly to the rest of the park.  Dreamland burned through the next day.  Fire companies came to the scene, but the wind’s direction calmed a fire that could have otherwise engulfed the island.  Coney Island icons like Thompson’s Scenic Railway, the Iron Tower and all of Dreamland were destroyed.  The park burned for 18 hours.  The lathe & plaster structures were very flammable and the Dreamland tower was so bright it was seen in Manhattan (and that was in a period when the city’s buildings averaged around only ten stories tall).  Ironically, William H. Reynold’s greed could have been the undoing of the park.  He set down Dreamland so fast that the city did not have time to pull up their fire hydrants.  The firemen reported serious issues of low pressure, which could have come from the dozens of hydrants leaking water amongst the ruins.

According to Richard Snow & Ric Burns’ documentary film, “Fred Thompson found Dreamland’s manager, Sam Gumpertz, staring at acres of smoking rubble and wordlessly shook his hand.”  Very little came after Dreamland.  Samuel Gumpertz opened a freak show in a large tent and William H. Reynolds decided not to rebuild the park that had been such a colossal failure.  Today the New York aquarium sits where the “white ramparts” of Dreamland stood for seven years.

Dreamland: The Dreamland Tower

 

 

 

 

 

 

It must be Sunday in Dreamland at Coney Island. The crowds have come out in their best and are seeing what the park has to offer. The stately Dreamland tower offers the perfect backdrop for this scene, Spanish architecture in the middle of Brooklyn, a great time to be alive. (Photo Courtesy the Library of Congress)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the postcard on the left the moon is out and there does not appear to be a soul about in Dreamland. Behind the gazebo is the park’s power plant, called the Electricity Building, where 1,000,000 lights were lit nightly. To the left of the tower are the chutes. The postcard to the right is a closer shot and depicts the park just after dusk has fallen.

 

 

 

 

 

Dreamland’s Tower had two large spotlights affixed to it. Sailors said these often disoriented captains, who thought the beacons were from a lighthouse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dominant. Beautiful. These are the words that immediately come to mind when one sees the Dreamland Tower and Promenade at night. The Dreamland Tower was reportedly based on the Giralda in Seville, Spain. It stood 375-feet high, adorned at the top by a large falcon, and was covered in 100,000 lights. It was excessive, it was Coney.  (Photo Courtesy the Library of Congress)ed to it. Sailors said these often disoriented captains, who thought the beacons were from a lighthouse.

Dreamland: Inside the Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The park sits quiet in the early morning as the first visitors are beginning to trickle in from Surf Avenue. A rocket ride can be seen in the foreground, while the Atlantic stretches into the distance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The miniature railroad in Dreamland was built by Cagney Brothers Miniature Railway Company. According to Richard Snow’s book Coney Island: A Postcard Journey to the City of Fire, they were powerful enough to pull ten tons at ten m.p.h. Dreamland kept with the traditional 4-4-0 steam engines, while Luna got new electric engines, certainly a park ahead of its time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Located at the end of Dreamland’s pier, the Ballroom was a beautiful sight for all visitors. It offered one of the most beautiful views of the ocean by day and during nighttime thousands of lights enchanted couples as they sauntered across the floor. (Photo Courtesy Library of Congress)

 

 

 

 

 

While the postcard says Steeplechase, this is clearly Dreamland, or just outside of it.  It is difficult to ascertain whether this is taken from the edge of the park and the Ferris wheel was an independent concession or if it was part of the park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fighting Flames was one of the rides that most directly copied from Luna Park, where it was called Fire and Flames. The same idea prevailed here: tenements were set and the fire department of New York came to rescue the trapped victims, some of whom had to jump down into nets to escape the blaze. This was one of the attractions with which New Yorkers identified most, since many lived in badly-kept and run down dwellings where fire was always a concern. Note the splash pool for the Chutes to the left. (Photo Courtesy the Library of Congress)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fighting Flames was one of the rides that most directly copied from Luna Park, where it was called Fire and Flames. The same idea prevailed here: tenements were set and the fire department of New York came to rescue the trapped victims, some of whom had to jump down into nets to escape the blaze. This was one of the attractions with which New Yorkers identified most, since many lived in badly-kept and run down dwellings where fire was always a concern. Note the splash pool for the Chutes to the left. (Photo Courtesy the Library of Congress)

 

 

 

 

The back of Dreamland. Left to right we have: the pool of the chutes, the Iron Tower (out of the park), Touring the Alps, the Japanese Tea Room and the beach (out of picture).

Dreamland

If Steeplechase represented fun and sexuality and Luna was the juxtaposition of art and youth, Dreamland was the Bible brought to Brooklyn with hints of showmanship. The park was the brainchild of a crooked businessman, William H. Reynolds. He had many connections in the Tammany politics of New York. Reynolds was the poster boy for crooked politics and seemed to have his fingers in most every pie- he even sold Chrysler the plot of land where his art-deco urban masterpiece would grow. Author Richard Snow said that Reynold’s underhanded activities were brought to Coney and that Dreamland was built so fast that many islanders felt the park grew over many of the area’s fire hydrants, ensuring the park free city water for its short life. Dreamland only operated from 1904-1911, but during that time the park helped turn the island into a city unlike anything the modern world had seen.

“Tall towers that had grown dim suddenly broke forth in electric outlines and gay rosettes of color, as the living spark of light travel hither and thither, until the place was transformed into an electric garden, of such a sort as Aladdin never dreamed.” Albert Bigelowe Paine

Visitors coming to the island from New York by boat saw Coney first by disembarking on the Dreamland Pier. What a sight the island must have been as people walked down the gangplank and saw this wonderland unfurl before them. This used to be known as the Old Iron Pier.

Dreamland’s Creation attraction doubled as the entrance off Surf Avenue. It took visitors on a journey through Genesis and the creation of the world.