John Kasson's Amusing The Million

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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 and working class. The “amusement parks emerged as laboratories…show more content…
Both of these attractions were constructed by genteel reformers not just to provide entertainment, but to uphold their values and teach “their users in lessons of aesthetic taste and social responsibility and to inspire them with a respect for cultural standards” (11). Olmsted, strived to implement his views of recreation through the designing of New York’s Central Park, but was set back when genteel power was revoked to make changes to the park. He intended the park to serve as an escape from urban pressures and conditions, using natural landscape scenery and providing limited outdoor attractions and activities. However, Olmsted’s design left much to be desired by men who wanted more “manly and blood tingling recreations” (13). Meanwhile the Department of Public Parks added fireworks displays, marry-go rounds, and baseball fields to burial facilities for eminent figures (16), which didn’t fit Olmsted’s vision. They saw the park as an opportunity for business, while Olmsted’s views and the “early history of Central Park reflected a conflict in conceptions of culture and urban recreation that would become increasingly apparent toward the end of the nineteenth century”

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