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The Tilyou House, Coney Island

George Bradford Brainerd

The first inn on Coney Island, Coney Island House, was established in the island’s Gravesend section, to the east, in 1829. Guests arrived by stagecoach, and the journey from the city was often grueling and time-consuming. By the 1840s, a daily ferry connection to the western part of the island brought visitors to Coney Island Pavilion, an early pleasure dome offering dancing, dining, and bathing. Whereas the eastern edge of the island catered to a middle-class and wealthier audience, this western part, known as Norton’s Point and the site of present-day Seagate, was closer to Manhattan and attracted a broader range of people. With the arrival of the first rail lines in the 1860s, the accumulation of bars, music halls, and entertainment contributed to the grittiness. The Tilyou family is intimately connected with Coney Island as providers of entertainment, and this image shows Peter Tilyou’s Surf House, established in 1865, a popular tavern close to the terminus of the first rail line. George Bradford Brainerd, the photographer, was a prolific and accomplished amateur who during his life documented urban and rural landscapes mostly in Brooklyn (an independent city until 1898) and New York, but also in the rest of Long Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
MEDIUM Collodion silver glass wet plate negative
DATES November 30, 1874
DIMENSIONS 3 1/4 x 6 3/4 in. (8.3 x 17.1 cm)  (show scale)
ACCESSION NUMBER 1996.164.2-1136
CREDIT LINE Brooklyn Museum/Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Collection
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION George Bradford Brainerd (American, 1845–1887). The Tilyou House, Coney Island, November 30, 1874. Collodion silver glass wet plate negative, 3 1/4 x 6 3/4 in. (8.3 x 17.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Museum/Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Collection, 1996.164.2-1136 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1996.164.2-1136_glass_SL1.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 1996.164.2-1136_glass_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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