This episode looks at Coney Island in 1881 and tells the story of a German immigrant girl in 1906 who loves amusements, including Coney Island and Rockaway Beach. The Coney Island story comes from a book titled, Coney Island Folies: How New York’s Gay Girls and Jolly Boys Enjoy Themselves by the Sea! It was published in 1881 by Richard K. Fox. The story of Agnes, the German nursemaid, was published in 1906 in an anthology titled, The Life Stories of Undistinguished Americans as Told by Themselves. The publisher was Hamilton Holt, the editor of the liberal New York newspaper, The Independent.
Coney Island in 1881 was a place where women could be free of the normal constraints of society. They played, they swam, they flirted. They had fun. They also skirted the boundaries of society, acting in ways that many saw as shameful and scandalous. By the time Agnes, our German nursemaid was visiting the Island in 1906, Coney Island had turned into an attraction, with rides, shows and dances to delight all.
Subscribe to the Her Voice Echoes podcast
Click here if you’d like to support our podcast.