Amusing The Million1 Essay

Submitted By lovly234
Words: 1371
Pages: 6

“Amusing the Millions”
Nineteenth century was set on a specific set of values and morals, which was defined by Protestant upper-middle class. It was seen “in many respects more thoroughly ‘Victorian’ than the England over which Victoria reigned.” (4) Reformers in this time period strived to meet the mission of mold the urban-industrial and to discipline and refine. Leaders, or a self-conscious elite, believed that the community should not only try to better themselves but society as a whole. In this the American apostles put forth the effort to apply certain virtues of character, which were “moral integrity, self-control, sober earnestness, (and) industriousness.” (4) Throughout most of the nineteenth century this was the dominant culture, and it was called genteel culture. In this era their ability to get the support of influential molders of the prominent mass culture, these people would echo the ideas to a broad audience so they would also grasp the “ideal” society. Although the genteel society claimed most of the nineteenth century in the later parts a new assertive economic elite rose with less cultural ties. By the end of the century both sides felt the limits of their power. Near the very end of the century a rebellion of sorts occurred when the younger society, including the old authority’s children, started to reject the genteel middle class culture. This new mass culture “sensed new markets within in the urban middle class and spilling beyond its borders to ‘high society’ and the largely untapped working class.” (6) The bringing up of this new culture resulted in the American mass culture involving itself in activities which had previously only been thought of doing.
Although the culture was changing through the people and ideas “the most striking expression of the changing character of American culture, however, lies in the new amusement parks” (7) that started being built at the turn of the century. The amusement parks were made possible by increased leisure time, increasing urban population, as well as spending power. The one that dominated the others in size, scope, and fame was the notorious New York’s Coney Island. These amusement parks at Coney Island and other places “gathered together a variety of popular attractions and pastimes, all of which reflected the changing cultural mood.” (7) The amusement parks emerged as a boiling point for new mass culture, providing settings that instantly made you feel different. “Audience and activity frequently merged,” (8) which was new idea at spectacles like these ones. Coney Island more specifically shed light on the transition into a different culture and the struggle for moral, social, and aesthetic authority in America at the turn of the century. Coney offers an idea of the rebellion against the genteel standards of code and conduct, which would initial cease in the 1920s.
In the postwar decades Coney Island was originally a beach resort and investors poured money into it hoping for profit. West Brighton initially “monopolized Coney Island tourism.” (33) They originally made this so because of their ability to accommodate guest by the thousands, they advertised the capacity as a great part of their selling point. In 1893 and 1895 fires destroyed the entertainment section of West Brighton, “with the aid of these purifying agents, the stage was set for the beginning of a new era at Coney Island.” (34) With the chance to recreate Coney Island they wanted to create a sense of wholesome entertainment as well as a sense of release. Coney Island offered a variety of attraction at a modest admissions price. It offered a sense of leisure for people with busy schedules, so people could take a partial day holiday whenever they could at reasonable prices. Coney Island’s amusement parks were also made widely accessible, express trains were said to only take thirty-two minutes to arrive at Luna Parks entrance. For convince Coney Islands parks were open may to early September,