Coney Island History: Doctored Images and Photograph Gallery
These images are from the author's collection of rare souvenir viewbooks dating from 1904 through 1909. Pair these images with the Historical Map to see Coney Island over one hundred years ago. Images are arranged alphabetically within categories. Click on an image for a larger pop-up version, and then use your keyboard's left/right arrow keys to scroll through the images.
Edwardians loved to Photoshop as much as a Millennial likes posting pictures to Facebook. Postcard manufacturers could take the exact same photograph of the Loop the Loop on Surf Avenue and print it in black and white, or send it off to a studio where artists who likely had never even been to Coney Island would color it whatever colors they happened to like that day... or night. Sometimes, they would draw people into scenes, or change statues and buildings to suit their liking. This is what makes it tricky to rely exclusively on postcards when doing historical research on Coney Island.
Photographs in supposedly-official viewbooks weren't exempt from touches of piracy, either. Wouldn't that nice shot - taken from the top of the chutes at Dreamland - look better with a gentleman smoking a cigar in the foreground at the left? Yes! Let's draw him in. Just make sure he's facing away, because drawing a face is a lot more tedious than drawing the back of his head!
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