Sensual nature Coney Islands animals

I will begin with the most obvious manifestation of external nature: Coney Island's fauna. The great amusement parks were full of living animals, from Sea Lion's wolves to Dreamland's polar bears. Luna Park was especially known for live animal acts. Fred Thompson and Skip Dundy were particularly fond of elephants (the latter was rumoured to have considered them a lucky charm), their herd of which in 1909 gave rides to some ten thousand people a week (Berman 2003:57) but also kept camels, diving horses, ostriches, alligators, monkeys, pigs and goats, among others. All of the parks hosted circus acts or menageries at one time or another, usually in addition to several individual and more highly specialized animal shows. Live animals were used not merely for entertainment, but for hard labour: when Thompson and Dundy moved their cornerstone "Trip to the Moon" ride from Steeplechase to their newly created Luna Park on the former site of Sea Lion, it was Luna's elephants, including Topsy, which did most of the heavy lifting. And of course, Coney Island was the site of three horse racing tracks until 1910.

In addition to living beasts, Coney Island was fairly riddled with animal imagery. From the Elephant Hotel to the mechanical cow that dispensed five-cent glasses of milk at Culver Plaza, animal effigies abounded at Coney Island. At Luna, Heppe's Kandy Meat Market sold sweet confections in the shape of farm animals and pets. Steeplechase of course boasted its namesake ride, which sported wooden racehorses. Dreamland had Andrew Mack's Fish Pond, with mechanical tin fish for the catching. Sea Lion sported a plethora of aquatic symbols in addition to its 40 genuine sea lions. And of course, park rides were frequently name for various fauna, from the Sea Serpent at Steeplechase to the Butterfly at Luna to the Leap Frog Railroad at Dreamland.

0 0

Post a comment