Brooklyn Rising

The City of Churches and Henry Ward Beecher, of Walt Whitman, Coney Island, and a famously departed baseball team is ready for its next act—as a world-class tourist destination


Even if they’ve never set foot on this area of 81 square miles at the southwestern tip of Long Island, most people have a vivid picture of Brooklyn—gained from gangster movies or postcards of its bridges or of Coney Island, songs (“Give Me the Moon Over Brooklyn”), countless immigrant novels or Jackie Gleason’s bellowing, ever-dreaming bus driver in “The Honeymooners.” The gabby streetwise Brooklyn kid, pugnaciously devoted to his trolleys, his Dodgers, and finally his platoon, was a staple of World W

Popular Culture

“Popular culture” is not the opposite of or the alternative to something called “high culture.” It is not degraded, debased, simple, or undisciplined. Nor is it defined primarily by its mass appeal or commercial values. It is not the size of the audience Aa* is important but its diversity.Read more »

Terror Bound

The monarch of all amusement devices is beautiful to look at and exhilarating to ride. Even so, roller coasters nearly died out in America before recent events brought them surging back.

Thank God for failed screenplays and the ideas they set free.


Thank God for failed screenplays and the ideas they set free. Read more »

Xanadu By The Salt Flats

Saltair, the stately pleasure dome that used to rise out of the waters of Great Salt Lake, was the Coney Island of the West.


Now and again, on a picnic hill, when the incense of hamburgers and hot dogs grows thick and stupefying, I am moved to rise on my hind legs with a spatula in one hand and a bun in the other and give voice to an atavistic howl, a nasal, high, drawn-out ululation like that of a muezzin from a minaret or a coyote from a river bluff. Read more »

A Greeting From Coney Island

Today the place is one great migraine headache of noise and neon, and it takes a very observant visitor indeed to pick out the few pathetic remnants of the old glory: a scrap of decorative wrought iron on top of a building, a carved wooden allegory in the clammy depths of an ancient tunnel of love. But in its day Coney Island was the incarnation, in wood lath and plaster, of all that Americans found grandiose, compelling, and titillating.Read more »

The Master Showman Of Coney Island

On the theory that the greatest show is people, George Tilyou turned a rich man’s resort into a playground for the masses

On every warm summer week end on Coney Island a great swarm of people may be found heading for a slow-moving line that leads always to the same entertainment device. Typically, they will wait nearly an hour to enjoy a ride that lasts for perhaps one mildly exhilarating minute, fudged as a thrill, the ride packs about as much punch as a cup of cambric tea.Read more »