Coney Island: Two Historical Webinars, plus Online Resources
Online presentations (virtual tours) I can lead for classes, groups, and organizations.
This page is under development.
Coney Island, a font of popular culture, cradle of the amusement industry, and summer respite for the well-off and the working class, has been richly documented in photography, film, audio, and video. Numerous worthy books and online exhibits have been produced.
But sorting through them takes an enormous amount of time, and even excellent single summaries, such as in a book or documentary film, aren't necessarily eclectic or current enough.
So I, as tour guide and Coney Island aficionado, have developed two lively entertaining, educational webinars (online seminars, or virtual tours), including slides and video, to distill Coney's history. I can present them as private tours for your family or group, customized by timing and scope.
And I also present them as larger-group tours open to the public.
Each lasts 75-90 minutes and is aimed at anyone interested in Coney Island, including locals stuck inside, those who remember visiting Coney decades ago, or those who always wanted to go. (Here's a taste of the story of Topsy the Elephant.)
The webinars can be presented on Zoom or any other workable platform, with Q&A or chat enabled. The webinars can be adjusted for specific classes or interested groups.
My research depends on the enormous collective effort of scholars, fans, ordinary people, businesses, and nonprofit organizations.
Viewer reactions to my first Part 1 tour:
I've continued my research, such as on the history of Old Plantation and whether Coney Island amusements closed during the 1918 flu epidemic.
Today's Coney Island
Do support nonprofits involved in Coney, notably:
Coney Island t-shirts (and other souvenirs) available via Coney Island Beach Shop, Lola Star, Coney Island USA, Roxy's Tee Parlor, Ruby's Bar, Luna Park, NY Transit Museum.
Coney Island food & drink:
Heart of Coney Island: David Sullivan's wonderful historical site, with great images
Jeffrey Stanton's excellent Coney Island History Site, last updated 2013
America Experience: Coney Island, 1991 companion web site to Ric Burns' documentary film (see below)
U.S. History Scene, Vaudeville, Amusement Parks, & the World’s Fair, an excellent academic site
Brooklyn Museum: Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861–2008 (original exhibition at Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art); also Forever Coney: Photographs from the Brooklyn Museum Collection, Stephen Powers: Coney Island Is Still Dreamland (To a Seagull), and Goodbye Coney Island?
Library of Congress has an enormous trove.
New York Historical Society: and also search at this link. Smithsonian Institution; National Gallery; Google Arts & Culture; International Center for Photography; Museum of the City of New York; Museum of Modern Art (MoMA); Whitney Museum; Metropolitan Museum of Art; New York City Transit Museum; Guggenheim Museum; Cooper Hewitt Design Museum; American Museum of Natural History; American Folk Art Museum; Jewish Museum.
Blueprint Coney Island, lively 28-minute documentary produced by New York City in 2017
America Experience: Coney Island, 58-minute documentary produced by Ric Burns in 1991. Available on DVD and digitally via Kanopy (if your library subscribes)
Defunctland: The History of Coney Island, a well-researched 40-minute episode, from 2020, with five stories from Coney Island
Channel 13, Treasures of NY: Coney Island Museum
Coney Island: Lost and Found, by Charles Denson
Coney Island: the People's Playground, by Michael Immerso
Coney Island: A Postcard Journey to the City of Fire, by Richard Snow
Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861–2008, ed. by Robin Jaffee Frank, et al.
The Lost Tribe of Coney Island: Headhunters, Luna Park, and the Man Who Pulled Off the Spectacle of the Century, by Claire Prentice
The Strange Case of Dr. Couney: How a Mysterious European Showman Saved Thousands of American Babies, by Dawn Raffel (also BBC audio documentary Life Under Glass, by Claire Prentice)
Topsy: The Startling Story of the Crooked-Tailed Elephant, P. T. Barnum, and the American Wizard, Thomas Edison, by Michael Daly
The Kid of Coney Island: Fred Thompson and the Rise of American Amusements, by Woody Register
Amusing the Million, by John Kasson
Going Out: The Rise & Fall of Public Amusements, by David Nasaw
Cheap Amusements: Working Women and Leisure in Turn-of-the-Century New York, by Kathy Peiss
Dreamland, by Kevin Baker
The Museum of Extraordinary Things, by Alice Hoffman
Coney, by Avram Ducovny
Coney Island Reader: Through Dizzy Gates of Illusion, edited by Louis Parascandola & John Parascandola (inc. non-fiction)
Coney Island in popular culture
Including film, music, theater, and more: Wikipedia has a good list