The Coney Island-themed facade was constructed in 1995. It was soon acquired by MGM, then demolished in 2006 to make way for the contruction of City Center. Mandarin Oriental is in this location today. Photos by Michael Boutot
When it opened in May 1904, Dreamland Park was among the most costly amusement parks in the United States. A small group of powerful New York politicians raised $3.5 million and made some under-the-table deals in order to have Dreamland up and running at Coney Island exactly one year after Luna Park opened. These men, led by the former state senator William H. Reynolds, sought to capitalize on the immediate financial success of Luna Park. In order to outdo Luna, located directly across Surf Avenue, they made everything bigger and brighter at Dreamland. The 375-foot-high Beacon Tower was much taller than Luna’s Kaleidoscope Tower and the one million electric lights quadrupled those at Luna. In addition, as seen in this photograph by Eugene Wemlinger, a thirty-five-foot-high statue of a voluptuous nude angel, framed by a golden arch and crowned with an electric sign, towered over visitors.
This statue served multiple purposes. It was a startling contrast to the red-and-white pinwheels across the street at Luna and it positioned the park as a virtuous counterpoint to the zany Steeplechase, with its devilish Funny Face. The statue’s immense presence immediately signaled that Dreamland was different from these earlier parks. Many of the buildings at Dreamland housed biblically or morally inspired attractions, including Hell Gate and The End of the World. However, the use of an angel to frame the entrance to Dreamland was also cleverly subversive in that the religious connotations allowed for excessive female nudity to be on display.