Old photos of Coney Island in the early 1900s tend to give the impression of it as a wholesome, family-friendly kind of place, sideshow freaks notwithstanding.
Compared to what people generally wore in the summer, those bathing-suit-and-bloomers combos were pretty revealing.
Single men and women met up and flirted on the boardwalk and beach, breaking free from rigid Victorian-era dating codes.
And the rides at the great amusement parks afforded a couple privacy and intimacy. They were kind of the hook-up spots of turn-of-the-century New York City.
“Various amusements contrived to lift a women’s skirts and reveal their legs and underclothing while numerous others provided opportunities for intimate physical contact,” explains Amusing the Million: Coney Island at the Turn of the Century, by John F. Kasson.
“Slow, scenic rides through tunnels and caves offered abundant occasions for ‘spooning’ and ‘petting,’ to use the language of the day.
“One ride, the ‘Cannon Coaster,’ articulated the appeal of many similar attractions in advertising: ‘Will she throw her arms around your neck and yell? Well, I guess, yes!’
Tags: 19th century bathing suits, Amusing the Million: Coney Island at the Turn of the Century, Cannon Coaster Coney Island, Coney Island, John F. Kasson, Tunnel of love Coney Island, turn of the century dating