A look at Brooklyn, then and now.
Ah, summertime in New York City as enjoyed at a bungalow by the sea!
A chance to get away from the heat and crowding of the city. An opportunity to feel the salty breezes of the Atlantic Ocean waft over you as you sit in a lawn chair on your own porch in front of your own little cottage, only a block or less from water.
Who wouldn’t want that? But who could afford it in New York City, unless you were rich?
Brooklyn has always had some great beaches. When Coney Island, Manhattan and Brighton Beaches became Brooklyn’s Riviera in the late 19th century, it looked as if only the rich swells would get to enjoy the sun and sand.
They flocked to the shore to stay in enormous luxury resort hotels where they were waited on hand and foot. They were entertained by John Philip Sousa and his marching band, and feasted on food from the finest chefs in the city.
But that all ended when Coney Island became a working-class amusement park. The rich abandoned the hotels for quieter places on Long Island or the Jersey Shore, and eventually the big hotels either burned down or were torn down.
Developers realized that there was opportunity here. Clearly, the working class wanted to enjoy the ocean as much as any upper class family did. If they built it, they would surely come.
But the question was how to build efficiently and cheaply. The answer was found in watching Henry Ford’s cars roll off the assembly lines – mass production. (more…)