History

Lilliputia

The other day I made a Vintage Roadshow post titled Dreamland and it got me thinking about the actual Dreamland and a post I made over a year ago on my other blog. I’m re-posting here for my vintie friends.


From Time Out New York, the “It happened here” blurb talks about Lilliputia in Coney Island which apparently was “an experimental community of little people” that was part of Dreamland in the early 1900’s. And at first it sounded quite darling.

Their city, in a area 80 x 175 feet, was built at half scale as a replica 15th century Nuremburg, Germany. Everything was built in proportional scale of the inhabitants, from the theater to the beach lifeguard towers and toilets in their homes. The midgets had their own parliament, their own Midget City Fire Department that responded hourly to a false alarm, and their own beach complete with midget lifeguards. There was also a “Midget Theater”, circus arena, miniature livery stable with diminutive horses, bantam chickens, and midget Chinese laundrymen. To accentuate the “little people’s size, a giant or two sometimes walked the area. During the park’s off hours, the “little people” lead a typical mundane family life. From Jeffrey Stanton

You can even read about Queen Mab & Caspar Weis known as “the most famous midget couple in the world” and one time residents of the Coney Island Midget Village.

Charming, no? Until of course reading it was turned into a “hotbed of sexual anarchy” and “all kinds of promiscuity, homosexuality and nymphomania was encouraged”. Um, do you think Thor would be interested in recreating that with their new vision of Coney Island?

Human beings from every part of the globe were brought to Dreamland and put on display. The park manager, Sam Gumpertz, acquired a dozen Somali warriors from French Equatorial Africa and an entire village of Eskimos. In 1905, he hustled 51 tribesmen from the Philippines past startled immigration officials. Gumpertz himself recruited all the citizens of Lilliputia, a half-scale European village which served as year-round home to 300 midgets. At Creation, visitors journeyed backward through 60 centuries of biblical history to the Divine Origin of all things. Next door, vast panoramic exhibits foreshadowed the End of the World and Hell. From Scenes of My Hometown

Hellgate, a boat ride through the caverns of hell, was the start of the Dreamland fire

How freaking cool was this place? With “vast panoramic exhibits foreshadowed the End of the World and Hell”, an “entire village of Eskimos” and even “a display of baby incubators, where premature babies were cared for and exhibited“? Sigmund Freud, supposedly declared Coney Island the only part of America that interested him – and we know what a sick freak he was.

I have now spent pretty much my entire day reading about Lilliputia and I am officially adding Dreamland to my reading list.

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