One Legged Athlete, Coney Island, NY
George Bradford Brainerd
After establishing the Surf House, the Tilyou family in 1882 developed the Bowery, a lane that ran parallel to Coney Island’s main drag, Surf Avenue, between West Tenth and West Sixteenth streets. It was famous for its gambling, dance palaces, concert halls, burlesque theater, and sideshows with snake charmers, jugglers, and acrobats, as well as many independently operated concession stands, arcades, and carousels. From the 1860s through the 1890s, the west end of the island attracted a very mixed crowd, including many prostitutes and criminal gangs, and long before the creation of any of the great amusement parks, this part of Coney came to be known as Sodom by the Sea. Nearby attractions such as the Midget’s Palace, a Convention of Curiosities (essentially a “freak show”), a Camera Obscura (where moving images from the surrounding area were projected onto a revolving screen), roller coasters and other thrilling mechanical rides, and spectacular nighttime pyrotechnic displays contributed to Coney’s immense popularity.
Gelatin dry glass plate negative
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Brooklyn Museum/Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Collection
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George Bradford Brainerd (American, 1845-1887). One Legged Athlete, Coney Island, NY, ca. 1885. Gelatin dry glass plate negative, 2 1/8 x 3 1/4 in. (5.4 x 8.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Museum/Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Collection, 1996.164.2-2111 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1996.164.2-2111_glass_SL1.jpg)
overall, 1996.164.2-2111_glass_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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