American Experience

Season 3 Episode 11

Coney Island

Aired Monday 9:00 PM Feb 04, 1991 on PBS

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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  • An excellent mix of history and sentiment, works well in its integration.

    Ric Burn's first solo foray into full-length documentary, the story of the amusement parks of Coney Island

    This may be among my all-time favorite installations of "American Experience", a nice combination of cultural history and the the evolution and decline of the amusement park. A fine job is done setting up the story of the initial park, "Steeplechase" (and its early technology), moving on to the glitz and lights of "Luna Park" - all along touching on the reasons why so many New Yorkers streamed to these places in the post turn-of-the-century heat of summer. Also documenting the overblown opulance of "Dreamland", Burns does a good job introducing the original music for "Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland" while reminding the viewer of the awe and romance these parks sparked in their time. Even the many shady dealings and accidental and deliberate fires that afflicted Coney Island parks lend insight into the business mind of pre World War II America. The segments on the deterioration and closing of the original parks have a touch of tragedy in the realization of an era lost, even though the remnants (and descendants) of these great entertainment complexes continue on to this day.

    Good television.