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Entrance to Dreamland, Coney Island

Eugene Wemlinger

William H. Reynolds’s Dreamland, constructed in 1904, was the third of the historical amusement parks at Coney Island. In an effort to attract a middle-class audience that otherwise might be deterred by the excesses of Coney, its all-white, more traditional design, in line with the White City of Chicago’s 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, signaled purity rather than offering the orientalist exoticism of Luna Park’s imaginary architecture. With biblically inspired spectacles, it was meant to provide an alternative to the evils of dance halls and bars. “Creation,” a moving panorama under a giant blue dome, presented both the Creation, according to the book of Genesis, and the end of the world. Its entrance on Surf Avenue, seen in this photograph, was an arched portal supported by an enormous angel with her wings spread. As part of an allegorical figure, the angel’s bare breasts were considered morally acceptable. With taller towers, one million electric lights, and a capacity to accommodate one hundred thousand visitors, Dreamland sought to outshine its neighbors but never reached the popularity of Luna Park or Steeplechase.
MEDIUM Cellulose nitrate negative
DATES 1908
DIMENSIONS 5 1/2 x 3 1/2 in. (14 x 8.9 cm)  (show scale)
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
ACCESSION NUMBER 1996.164.10-26
CREDIT LINE Brooklyn Museum/Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Collection
RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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CAPTION Eugene Wemlinger. Entrance to Dreamland, Coney Island, 1908. Cellulose nitrate negative, 5 1/2 x 3 1/2 in. (14 x 8.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Museum/Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Collection, 1996.164.10-26
IMAGE overall, 1996.164.10-26_IMLS_SL2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2010
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