There was always a clubhouse
at Coney Island. One of the very first acts the new owners of the Ohio Grove did
In 1886 was to convert James Parker's mansion into the very first clubhouse.
Seen in the first non-postcard image below, it had a wide veranda. They brought
in one of the best chefs from Cincinnati to run the kitchen. They wanted to be
able to compete with all the finest hill-top resorts which then were the fad.
This building was also one of the very first businesses in Cincinnati to be
powered by a small generator that was able to light up part of the Clubhouse,
the dance pavilion, and a small portion of the grounds. The next year, 1887,
this generator was replaced by a larger, 50 horsepower one. The Clubhouse was
remodeled in 1887 with the first floor being a billiard parlor, the second floor
was used as a grand banquet hall for special occasions with the third floor as a
storage room and as a dining room when needed. The entire 2nd floor was
surrounded by a 250' balcony. In 1888 it was enlarged and 15 private sleeping
rooms were added. In 1894 a new fountain was added in front of the Clubhouse. In
1915 the Cafe Dansant, a dancing venue, was installed on the second floor
balcony. Here you could dine and dance to the music of the Walter Esberger
Orchestra. The dance floor was enlarged the next year. There were four dancing
venues at the park, The Cafe Dansant, The outdoor dance pavilion, and floors on
both the Island Queen and the Morning Star.
In 1924-25 the old Clubhouse, which had been in existence since 1886, was demolished and the new structure seen in the 2nd image below was built. It also shows the new Moonlite Gardens, build at nearly the same time, on the right behind the outdoor gardens. The third image shows the new Clubhouse that was constructed in 1937 of steel, bricks, and concrete to resist future floods. It had an upper veranda that could seat 400 people. A band shell was erected in the rose garden facing the Clubhouse so that both the Clubhouse and the Rose Garden could be entertained. A new one story cafeteria was build next to the Clubhouse with a modern kitchen being shared by both. The Clubhouse story will be continued in the 1940 to the end section.
These are not postcards
Coney Island has always had some kind of dance floor (see Parker's Grove drawing), but during the 20's dancing really caught on, it seems every one was doing it. In 1925 a new dance hall was built. Originally called the "Moonlite Dansant" or the "Moonlite Dance Garden" the name was soon shortened to the "Moonlite Gardens." The new dance floor did not have a roof thus the Moonlite part of the name. The 250' x 100' cement dance floor was covered in rubber. The old dance pavilion was moved to the Lake Como shore and became a shelter house. The first band to ever play at the Gardens was the McDonald's California Band. The first image above shows this structure. The next two show the Gardens in 1928 after a newly installed covered roof was put on, and the last image shows the bar at the Gardens that was put in after the end of prohibition. There are postcards on this building in the next section.
A scene at Coney The Showboat Lake Como
The Show Boat was a fun house built in the shape of a steamboat. When you walked thru the floors became ceilings, barrels you walked through would suddenly lean forward and the rooms would, seemly, defy gravity. One of the attractions connected with the Show Boat was "Show Boat Sal". She was a mechanical lady that would continuously laugh which would cause everyone around to start laughing. Another very popular feature (for the guys) was the blast of air that would blow their dates skirt up in the air.
In 1926 Noah's Ark was added to the park. It was a "themed" funhouse that was reached by climbing a gangplank to the top of a "mountain". Made of wood it rocked back and forth and this, unfortunately, actually made some people seasick. Animals looked out the windows and overlooking the attraction was Captain Noah. as you went thru the funhouse things would light up or jump out at patrons. Some religious groups complained that the funhouse poked fun at the bible story. Two years later it was replaced by a new funhouse called the Devil's Kitchen.
Laff in the Dark
Laff-in-the-Dark was built in 1932 next to the Wildcat. The powered cars ran on a twisted track that went over humps on a 850 foot trip. Things you saw on the trip were a jumping lion, a devil, dancing girl, a coffin with a skeleton on it.
Not a postcard
Midway in the 1930s
Boat Entrance Lake Como Clubhouse Moonlite Gardens Land of Oz
The Cascades Airplane View Island Queen The Mall Swimming Pool
The 10 images above come from a folder that was torn out of it's missing cover. I decided to show all 10 images separately because most of them are unique, not seen on other postcards. Even the last two, that can be seen on postcards are better and clearer than the postcard images. Notice in the 4th image painted on the back wall above and to the left of the bandstand the words "High Water Level 1937".
The Cascades (See above)
These postcards were taken at Randall's Quick Finish Photo located in the park
It is rather difficult to tell if the last card above is a studio shot with a painted background or if it was actually taken on a race track. It looks too elaborate to have been taken indoors. What is now River Downs next door to Coney Island opened in 1925 and was called the Coney Island Track. I have not seen a picture showing what the structure at the finish line looked like so this could have been taken there although I am not familiar enough with the cars back then to know what year the car is. Any help would be appreciated.
The next five photographs were all taken by the same person in 1953. I thought I would keep them together and the only place I could do that is to put them here.
The Lost River Ride The Wildcat Coaster The Old Mill Lake Como General View
Two More General Views The Lindy Loop Morro Castle
The 1st image above shows the Windmill on the Mystic Chutes Ride, The Ferris Wheel and the Circle Swing with airplanes. The 2nd image shows a different angle of this area and shows the entrance to the airplane ride called Zoomer. After Charles Lindbergh's famous flight over the Atlantic in 1927 airplane rides became very popular. This ride had a track suspended above ground and traveled through the picnic area. It consisted of 6 airplanes connected together to form 6 car trains. Each plane had its own propeller powered by a 5HP motor and carried 4 passengers. It was not very popular and was dismantled after the 1931 season. The 3rd photograph is of the Lindy Loop a "modified" caterpillar ride that also swayed side to side. This was another ride that was named after Lindbergh. The last image is for a funhouse called Morro Castle that contained maze-like passageways. It was replaced in 1933 by Goofy House.
The above Coney Island glitter greeting card is generic meaning it could have been made for New York's Coney.
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