1. Infant Incubator Exhibit
Image via Library of Congress
Dr. Martin Couney’s Infant Incubator Exhibit opened in 1903 at Dreamland, during a time when few scientifically accepted the idea of infant incubators. The exhibit looked like your typical hospital ward with babies, nurses and doctors. One side of this ward was glass, and visitors would pay to walk through and look at the babies, some of which were placed in incubators in a hallway protected by a railing. A sign reading “All the World Loves a Baby” advertised the exhibit.
However, this exhibit was more than just a sideshow; it actually saved real lives, as parents would bring their premature infants to the incubators. Sadly, six babies from this exhibit perished in one of Coney Island’s raging fires. The exhibit closed in 1941, once people got used to the reality of incubators. This exhibit actually contributed to this acceptance and the advancement of medicine for premature infants.