Amusing the Millions

Topics: Coney Island, Amusement park, Sociology Pages: 5 (1378 words) Published: October 3, 2013
Prompt: “One of the important themes in the class has been “assimilation; ie. The desires and efforts by social reformers to ‘americanize’ various peoples: freed slaves, Indians, immigrants, and so on. ;assimilation; could be problematic, however, because it involved forcing on groups’ various values and viewpoints on other, even if it was done with the best of intentions. Consider ‘assimilation’ in the context of Coney Island amusement parks. According to Kasson’s Amusing the Million, who embraced the “mass culture” embodied by the parks, and why? Who rejected it, and why?”

3-4 pages (700-800 words)

Accepted it: The Young Americans & Immigrants trying to americanize their lives. It was more thrilling than other options at the time in Manhattan, saving all the money they could. Coney Island provided a means to participate in mainstream American culture on an equal footing (40). This new mass culture incorporated immigrants and working-class groups into their forms and values. Coney Island was entering a world apart from ordinary life, prevailing social stuctures and positions. It also provided and area in which vistitors were temporarily freed from normative demands.

Rejected: Genteel reformers, missed the concept they set forth with Central Park and ‘The White City’.

Coney Island amusement parks began in 1895, before the first World War. This was during the country’s shift to an “Urban-Industrial Society”.
-This was because of the changing economic and social conditions
-The purest expression lied in the ‘realm of commercial amusements; (4), to create ‘symbols of the new cultural order’…’kniting a heterogeneous audience into a cohesive whole’.

Before the new cultural:
“Victorian more than enland, with a strikingly coherent set of values that were kept by the self-conscious elite of critics, ministers, educators, and reformers, drawn principally from the protestant middle class of the urban Northeast. The Genteel Reformers

Victoria vitures of “Character” ; moral integrity, self-control, sober earnestness, industriousness Both work and leisure should be constructive
Hard work, curbing men’s animal passions, leisure should edify activites. All for “moral and social utility” Genteel Reformers: built museus, symphonies, art galleries, libraries for formal cultural life and established the cultural tone. This was an alliance of “high” and “middle” culture. Promoted badges of status and refinement

Failed against the working-urban class and new immigrants

New York’s Central Park:

Frederick Law Olmsted, retain proximity with nature in what was swiftly becoming a nation of cities. (11). All growth was haphazardly set for urban growth narrowed by commercial interests. Noticed “Social Fractures: by growing criminal activity, prostitues, alcholic, insance diseased, and the poor. Made Central Park for primary recreational value to be in the contemplation of natural scenery. (13) Only for people with money bc it was hard to travel to.

Boss Tammany Hall and William M. Tweed abolished the Board of Commissioners that was the genteel reformers, and laid a mockery of the park. (15)

Chicago’s Columbian Exposition of 1893:
for the 400th anniverisy of the discovery of American.
Wealthly chicagoian cultural elite paid for Daniel H. Burnham to make neoclassicism. Central idea: an opportunity to construct an ideal that would purify the gross materialism of American culture. The “White City” was to be made in thought of Venice to endure: “an embodiment of public order, cultural unity, and civic virtue, an making a vision of American cultural achievement for an age of disorder” (18). To “heighten the sense of possiblityly of what a city might be” (19). Still, Olmsted , said the crowd was still waiting for more gaiety wanted, and the “expression of the crowd too business like, common, dull, anxious, and care-worn,” (23). This gave way for the ‘City Beautiful’ movement for...
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