Amusing The Million Analysis

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Justine Sabo HIST 1302 Prof. Daniel LeClair 26 September 2015 Amusing the Million After the Civil War, many dramatic social and economic changes began to take place, moving American’s away from the genteel, “Victorian” culture they were used to and toward a more, “vigorous, exuberant, daring, sensual, uninhibited, and irreverent” one (6). In his book, Amusing the Million: Coney Island at the turn of the century, John Kasson, makes his thesis clear that with the rise of an urban-industrial society, Coney Island’s new amusement parks, and other forms of more affordable entertainment influenced the societal changes which began to emerge at the turn of the century and helped serve as a getaway from the stresses of everyday life for the middle…show more content…
Burnham, and much like New York’s Central Park, it provided an escape, but also included very different solutions to righting the wrongs of society. Instead of weakening society’s urban existence, the Columbian Exposition wanted to intensify the potential of what a city could be. To do this, Burnham used monumental grandeur which helped to represent a vision of order and “embodied the genteel ideal of culture: “correct and cosmopolitan, tasteful and urban, dignified and didactic” (21). Although the fair proved to be very popular among people from all over, one thing was very clear, many who visited the White City left disappointed. Kasson gives examples of this by describing how a writer by the name of Hamlin Garland invited his parents to the park, and after a day of passing from “one stupendous vista to another”, his mother pleaded to be taken home, stating, “I can’t stand any more of it” (22). Olmsted then backs this up by touring the city for himself and noticing that the expressions on the visitor around him wore “a tired, dutiful, “melancholy air” like that of which was often seen in the streets of the city (23). The White City was the main attraction of the exposition. Midway, on the other hand, was another attraction that was purposely kept secluded from the White City and was the public’s choice when it came to recreation. Midway was a huge sideshow, which refined order to exuberant chaos. It was filled with exotic attractions, restaurants, theaters, shops and exhibits and John Kasson points out that “it represented an entirely different model of democratic urban recreation from either Central Park or the White City, a park not according to civic values of cultural elites but according to the commercial values of entrepreneurs determined to attract a mass audience” (26). This proves that these amusement parks strongly set the foundation and influenced

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