Sunday, 15 June 2008
Coney Island, New York
A fascinating concertina card produced by Curt Teich for the American Art Publishing Co. The images bear © dates between 1912 and 1920, suggesting it went on sale in the early Twenties. The subject matter is a feast of exuberant architectural structures dedicated to leisure and amusement many of which no longer exist. Luna Park closed in 1944 after a fire: Steeplechase Park finally expired in 1964 and Coney Island resort went into a long period of decline. Recent decades have experienced a tortuous history involving a large cast of predatory developers each presenting equally unacceptable plans. Plots of land have changed hands with bewildering speed, half-baked schemes have struggled to reach any sort of completion and many of the surviving relics of the resort’s heyday have been vandalised and destroyed with the connivance of politicians and developers. Sadly, the spectacular Elephant Hotel is not to be seen on this card but can be accessed by clicking here. In 1946 the great Woody Guthrie became a Coney Island resident when he moved to an apartment at 3520 Mermaid Avenue. The persistent air of decay and the melancholy of a paradise lost have inspired many artists so it’s no surprise that Tom Waits has paid several visits to Coney Island in song.