2. Infant Incubators Were an Attraction

Coney Island Infant Incubators
The strange “Infant Incubator” exhibit at Coney Island in 1901. Image via Library of Congress

Did you know that Coney Island had a “Lilliputian Village”? This attraction, also called Midget City, had everything built to scale for tiny people. Coney Island was home to a host of bizarre attractions (some of which would not be acceptable today), especially back in the days of Luna Park, Dreamland, and Steeplechase Park. You can see a comprehensive list of all of Coney Island’s past shows and attractions here. For instance, in addition to many amusements involving lifting women’s skirts, there was the “Igorrote Village” during Luna Park’s 1905 summer season, which featured Filipino tribesmen titled “head hunting, dog eating savages.” They would perform sideshow versions of their native practices and literally eat dogs.

War reenactments, especially one of the Boer Wars that featured actual veterans of the war, were very popular. Especially insensitive was Coney Island’s simulation of the Galveston Flood, which in reality killed 6,000 people. There were also pig and elephant chutes (basically live pigs and baby elephants sliding down tubes into water), a baby incubator exhibit from the World’s Fair, and to top it all off, Luna Park’s most successful attraction, “A Trip to the Moon,” in which riders entered a spacecraft and embarked on a simulated ride through space. Read more about the baby incubators here!