Defying the traditional Victorian way of life,Coney Island at the beginning of the twentiethcentury had a profound impact on societal norms.Outside of Coney Island, women were often treatedas inferior while men ruled the throne in nearlyall aspects of life. However, within Coney Islandthe gender gap was equalized. Coney Island servedas a catalyst to a change in the traditionalmindset. In traditional society, women wereresigned to the role of wife and homemaker. AtConey Island, however, women experienced morefreedom of the opposite extreme.
The hotels,amusement parks, and rides and events that thecivilians encountered displays the immorality thatwas assumed at the turn of the century and theyears leading up to womens suffrage.In contrastto the strict gender roles of genteel society,Coney Island provided an open minded andprogressive atmosphere in which men and womencould be equals. In refined society, men and womenwere two different types of social classes inthemselves.
Revolving around the sphere of thehome, women followed the same gender role in allaspects of their life. Women were renowned asmorally superior to men in that they wereidentified as the angel of the house. Theysupported and nourished the family while at thesame time working to ever improve the household.Women catered to the needs of their children andin a sense took all the family tasks into theirown hands.
They cleaned house throughout the daywhile simultaneously preparing meals for theirfamily to consume.While having complete controlof the house and the moral upper hand, womenstill, nonetheless, could not differ from thejudgment of their spouse. A man carried thereputation of a hard working, industrious,political figure that was treated with royaltywithin his household. As opposed to women confinedto the house, men were very much involved in therelations of the public world. All aspects ofindustries and politics were experienced solely bythe male gender. After working long, hard days onthe job site throughout the week, men could returnto the comfort of their own home at night andexpect their spouses to gratify their needs. Thesetwo extremes of life worked together, however, tocraft a well-structured lifestyle until the uprise that occurred in the mayhem of Coney Island.Coney Island receives its fame and fortune firstthrough the upbringing of elegant hotels.
Hotelsflourished and over time became the backbone ofwhat Coney Island would soon progress into. WestBrighton, Brighton Beach, and Manhattan BeachHotels flourished in the east and evolved as theelite hotels throughout Coney Island. Kassonproclaimed, Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beachharbored the greatest pretensions torespectability and managed most successfully tosecede from the name and taint of Coney Island(Kasson 30). Through the creation of stylish andextravagant hotels, men and women began tofluctuate around Coney Island and its beautifulbeaches. Women could leave their traditional roleof housewife at Coney Island and not have toprepare meals or attend to the upkeep of theircontemporary domicile. They could take off fromtheir daily work routines and experience a morelaid back and negligent approach to life.In thesame sense, men frayed from their daily manuallabor and experienced an environment that was lessstressful and more untailored than what theyencounter in lifes conventional struggle. Men andwomen began to enjoy themselves to an extent thathad been absent in the past.
This initial increasein visitor attractions began the soon drasticchange into what would become modern social chaos.In the ongoing competition to attract visitors toConey Island, developers expanded the basic hotelsand traditional amusements to new adventurous andalluring types of entertainment. Kasson writes,Instruments of production and efficiency weretransformed into objects of amusement, and lifearound them lifted from dull routine toexhilaration pageantry (Kasson 73). Differentinnovations such as ferris wheels, shooting thechutes, and roller coasters provided a new type ofintense excitement that had never been sensed inthe past. These rides had visitors enjoying lifeto its maximum as opposed to the customary,labor-filled workday.Through breath takingmoments of unimaginable delight, these rides couldtake peoples supernatural dreams and turn theminto actual reality.
All aspects of these ridesromantically attracted both men and womentogether. In the past moral tradition, men andwomen were modest in interaction with each other.Now, men and women could ride along cuddling on alove boat or wrap their arms around each other asthey circled around and around on a colossalferris wheel.
With this new source ofentertainment, men and women could now openlyfraternize with each other without having to worryabout whether it was socially accepted. The socialatmosphere at Coney Island allowed for completestrangers to peruse intimate relationships witheach other, often resulting from sexual innuendos.This revolutionized lifestyle changed the waypeople in this era viewed life. During thecontinuing effort to attract visitors, amusementparks were erected to uplift the reputation ofConey Island.Steeplechase, Luna Park, andDreamland were the backbone to the entire make upof Coney Island not only as a source of touristattraction, but also as a new way of life.
Theydisplayed scenes that instilled a new mindset intothe people that encountered their pleasure. Suchas, while entering the parks a womens dress wouldbe blown up above her waste by underground fans,drawing the eyes of male spectators who crowded upto see this event. Performers would dress up inbejeweled costumes dancing to music, while castinga spell onto their spectators. These parks weredesigned to provide a new type of activeentertainment that would sweep people away fromthe everyday worries and restraints of life, andopen a new way of life that could only result indelight. Kasson writes, Thus Coney Island seemedcharged with a magical power to transmutecustomary appearances into fluid new possibilities(Kasson 53).Outside of the pleasure of ConeyIsland, men and women passed their days with hardwork and personal motivation.
Whereas, within theIsland the day was free from all stressful labor,and could be completely dedicated to personalenjoyment. These parks released society from arefined style of life and gave them a new on lookon the way life should be lived. Thistransformation from the Victorian age to themodern world within Coney Island had a lastingeffect on the lives of visitors.
People would exitthe park and take on a new approach to thelifestyle that would stumble their way. Eachindividual that encountered the wonders of ConeyIsland viewed life in a broad and more extensivemanner.People came to realize that life was notmeant to be strict and defined; with an open mind,even lifes wildest fantasies could come true.
Amusing The Million. Kasson, John F.. TheUnfinished Nation.
Brinkley, Alan.Industrialization. Class Notes. August 30, 2000.Bibliography:.