Coney Island History Site
Last Updated on September 6, 2013
This interactive educational site covers the history of Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York. It features timelines, historic articles and photographs, interactive maps that when clicked on show historic views, and lists of movies filmed on Coney Island's streets, beaches and amusement parks. Coney Island was considered the world's largest and premier amusement area during the first half of the 20th Century. It was a beach resort that provided carefree entertainment and thrilling amusement park rides to the millions of residents that lived in New York City. It featured three huge amusement parks; Luna Park, Steeplechase and Dreamland, and countless other attractions along the Bowery, Surf Avenue and its numerous side streets.
The historic articles and photographs for this educational site are based on Jeffrey Stanton's research for a forthcoming history book that would concentrate on Coney Island's amusement park business during the 20th century. While others have written extensively on the area's early history and its social history, they have sadly neglected the amusement park rides and the people who designed them.
Book Status: The Coney Island history book, which I've been writing since 1998, is nearly complete. The goal was and is to be the definitive history book about the famous resort. The text is slightly over 235,000 words (that's about 425 pages, single spaced, small type), and is presented in seven long chapters. Those who have read it are astounded by the book's depth. The project has taken several more years than I had expected, partly because I've been persistent in clearing up the errors that have managed to slip into other people's books, and I've researched everything from amusement ride patents, to how people lived and dressed at the turn of the 20th century. It was also important to bring the book to life with interesting stories about the people who built and operated businesses at the resort, as well as give detailed descriptions of the rides and shows. It also takes considerable time to reconstruct the various amusement parks for different years in three-dimensional, 3/4 aerial perspective views, which I feel are essential for the book. I must admit that I've been lax in finishing those dozen maps since publishers didn't wants maps in my book. Of course, the book wouldn't be complete without without hundreds of photos. While I had hoped that photos of nearly all of the area's rides and attractions would be available, the public collections only have some of them. I had hoped that private collectors would contribute to fill in the blanks, but I was mistaken, for those that I have corresponded with, have no interest in helping. To compensate, I've been buying hand-colored antique postcards of some of the missing rides.
Unfortunately I've had no success in finding a publisher who wants the 235,000 word text or my maps at all. The few publishers, who have shown interest, want to publish several hundred photos in a book with a few scattered paragraphs that in total don't exceed 5,000 - 10,000 words. They publish frill history books for an audience that doesn't read, but enjoys looking at interesting historic photos. Yes, I could self-publish the book, like I did with my 2005 Centennial edition of my Venice California - Coney Island of the Pacific book, but if I do, it will not be sold in any book stores or museums in the New York area, nor anywhere else in the United States. Besides it would probably cost me $100,000 to print it, and the chance of recovering my investment in the 10 - 20 more years that I'm likely to live, is doubtful. Selling my self-published books on the Internet did not work for me during the years 1996 - 2001 when my older Venice and Santa Monica books were available, nor during the years when my new Venice book became available in 2005. And now that three or four recently published Coney Island history books are available, only those who are seeking a comprehensive history book, or one that covers all of Coney Island's rides and attractions, will be my customers.
The author who is the content provider for this educational site, hopes that expanding the material for this site becomes a collaborative venture. It would be beneficial to all, that other researchers help fill in the missing pieces and share in providing content for this educational site. The author has digitized numerous photographs and color antique postcards from his archives. The material is copyrighted 2013 by Jeffrey Stanton. While students may use it freely in their school reports, commercial use of the material in any printed form is prohibited without permission and fees paid to the author.
Jeffrey Stanton's Biography
The site is looking for additional historic material; antique postcards, original photographs, ride tickets, guide books with maps, and various souvenir items. If one has material either for sale or to donate to this site, please leave a message (E-Mail) or write to:
ADDRESS: Jeffrey Stanton 12525 Allin Street Los Angeles, California 90066. Telephone (310) 821-2425 (no answering machine)
Please send E-Mail to:
The author has a similar historic amusement park site for Venice and Ocean Park, California.
- History Articles - The 37 illustrated articles are divided into three groups; General History, its Amusement Industry, and Research Sources. One of the more interesting articles is an extensive list of movies and television shows that were filmed in Coney Island along with exactly where they were filmed.
- Time Line - This section features important dates and events that occurred during Coney Island's history. Since it is rather long, it is divided into two decade sections. Currently there are no photos here.
- Historic Maps - There are currently 6 interactive (click on) maps available. There are between 8 and 18 interactive click points on each map that show views of Coney Island and its amusement park attractions. Each click point brings up one or more views of the attraction. These are a combination of color antique postcards and B&W photos. Each view is captioned.
- Bookstore - The author has written a coffee table history book - "Venice of America - Coney Island of the Pacific." The 288 page hardback contains 367 historic photos and a 100,000 word text. The resort in its prime was the Disneyland of its day, with huge amusement piers and a network of canals just like in Venice, Italy. Ordering information for this book is in this section.
- Links - Links to other sites; Amusement Parks, Venice California, Coney Island New York, and various World's Fairs.
Historic articles and photos copyrighted 1997, 2003 & 2013 by Jeffrey Stanton
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