15 of Coney Island’s Most Unusual Former Attractions

The Top 25 Secrets of NYC's Coney Island_Infant Incubators_1901_Brooklyn_NYC_untapped Cities_Stephanie Geier-001Image via Library of Congress

Today, Coney Island is home to attractions like the famous Cyclone roller coaster, the Wonder Wheel, some haunted trains, bumper cars, and several kiddie rides. However, if you were to walk around Coney Island over a century ago, you’d notice some bizarre attractions that you might find hard to believe even exist. While all of the attractions on this list are a bit odd, a few wouldn’t even be acceptable today. From its “midget villages” to questionably safe rides and outlandish sideshows, here are some of the strangest attractions in Coney Island’s history, reflecting differences in New York City’s cultural values and technological abilities compared to today.

15. Lilliputian Village

The Top 25 Secrets of NYC's Coney Island_Midget City_Brooklyn_NYC_Untapped Cities_Stephanie GeirImage via New York Public Library 

Also called “Midget City,” Coney Island’s Lilliputian Village had three-hundred dwarves and little people living inside, and even contained small-scaled furniture, houses and vehicles. How did these small inhabitants come to live here? Samuel Gumpertz, who managed Dreamland, traveled around the country and even to areas outside of it looking for small people to live in Midget City. Most inhabitants came from different World’s Fairs, circuses and freak shows, and the attraction opened in 1904. Here, villagers would perform in circuses, theater and operas, and also had their own fire and police departments, as well as a beach with mini-lifeguards. The village would also occasionally have “giants” strolling around.

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