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A musing The Million Coney Island at the Turn of the Century by John F. Kasson

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Amusing the Million: Coney Island at the Turn of the Century
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John Kasson wrote the book “Amusing the Million” with the bases of Coney Island which was situated on the end long Island of the southwestern. The main objective of the Kasson’s work is to analyze the neoclassical architecture together with the history of the park. According to Kasson, using historical research, post cards and old magazines would yield better results as it will give an account of all that happened in the area before.
Kasson puts more attention on mass culture emergence and the entire “genteel standards of taste and conduct against cultural revolt” in the whole of American community as well as leisure culture in the turn of the 20th century. He relates the entertainment park as “laboratories of the new mass culture.”
Moreover, the book addresses how people moved from the normative demands. It was as a result of carnival culture that was offered by Coney Island. Kasson shows how the Island provided leisure to people irrespective of class and ethnicity. Though, some people who aimed at reforming the land by regulating population in order to reduce leisure activities and improve public conduct as well as social order. However, Kasson continues to describe the urban-public in Coney that was motivated a “fantasy world.”
Kasson also talks of the public love that most people showed to Coney Island. It characterized the genteel leaders as less preferred compared to the Coney which was bringing total amusement to people.

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He also described Coney Island as an amusement ground that reflects valuable public desires where people escape to; it accommodates all cultures in order to develop urban-industrial community.
In addition, Kasson considers reformist’s institutions as a good influence on the development of urban-industrial culture that yield an overwhelming force to the growing public interests in non-genteel forms of entertainment. Kasson proves his point by giving a contrast of two valuable projects at the end of the century in relation to public interests. The two important projects are Chicago Colombian Exposition of 1893 and New York’s Central Park. Moreover, Kasson continues to address the reformists by saying that “they advocated most of the large public parks for the purpose of democratic recreation and other purposes that related to urban anomie.”
On the Chicago Colombian Exposition of the 1893 project, Kasson elaborates by saying that it resembles Central Park since it was also constructed on the basis of conveying images of cultural ideals which were shown in different ways. He says that “it was aimed to elevate the city by its example of monumental grandeur.”
Kasson also talks of the White City which was mostly related to the Midway; livelier district. White City was much different compared to the Midway and hence they showed distinct characteristics. According to Kasson Midway was sideshow that “included grudgingly as a concession to public taste” and “refined order to exuberant chaos.” It is far different from the White City since visitors would be welcomed and get entertained by women who wore fanciful dresses.
According to Kasson, lack of strictness and observance characterized Coney Island’s earliest appeal. People would wear cloths the way they feel comfortable irrespective of the situation. Also, there was various beaches which influenced beach wear; people never cared at all.
Kasson ends his book by the completion of the subway that linked Coney Island and New York City. People had freedom to do anything they want freely without any destruction. He says that, “A harbinger of the new mass culture, Coney Island lost its distinctiveness by the very triumph of its values.
Kasson, John. Amusing the Millions: Coney Island at the Turn of the Century, American Century Series. New York. Hill and Want, 1978.

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