Carousels, Coasters, and Cutthroat Competition: Coney Island Amusement Association, 1907 CONEY

GROUP: Continuous Crisis



  • Elliot Husseman (he/him)
  • Lucas Ribeiro (he/him)
  • Abby Langer (she/her)
Email Committee Chair

Come one, come all to Coney Island in its turn-of-the-century heyday! A peninsula off of New York City’s Long Island, the “Playground of the World” has been a resort spot for New Yorkers since the early 1800s, when the then-island was first connected to the mainland and hotels built to house wealthy vacationers looking to take advantage of Coney’s beaches. The advent of ferry and rail service in the middle of the century opened Coney to the middle class, and the island soon became a major amusement destination. At the time of committee, Coney’s boardwalks, beaches, hotels, theaters, restaurants, and amusement parks draw hordes of eager fun-seekers each year, and this “Electric Eden” is known across the nation as a place where fun comes to live.

But there’s a problem afoot: for the last four years, the island’s three major parks—Luna, Steeplechase, and Dreamland—have found it remarkably difficult to turn a profit. They’ve been engaged in a fierce race for customers, building new attractions and slashing ticket prices, but in doing so, the parks have also found themselves in a growing mountain of debt. So, they’re seeking a solution. In this committee, representatives from each park, together with local vendors, hotels, railroad companies, and city officials, look to find a path to profitability and sustainable growth on the island—whether they’ll succeed is up to you.