The amusement park for the weird
Dreamland was one of more amusement parks in Coney Island, New York having it's days of glory in the beginning of 1900. It was a place where all that was not allowed in the city could be lived out. The urbanization of Manhattan was at it's highest speed, the tempo was inhumane causing Coney Island to be the outlet for all that was weird and obscure, all that which did not belong to the sphere of work or rationality. The people of Manhattan loved it and flocked there in the 100 thousands.

Barrel of love
Where the metropolis created loneliness and isolation this was countered in Coney Island. "Barrel of love" was an attraction with two cylinders mounted in line each revolving in opposite directions. In one end men was feed to the machine, women in the other. The rotation made it impossible to remain standing, and men and women that would otherwise never have meet were mixed intimately. Once out of the machinery you could walk right into the Love Tunnel where the couples crossed a lake in a tunnel in complete darkness, while the boat was rocking sensually.

Dreamland was meant to be the ultimative leisure park, it had 14.000 employees and could acommodate ¼ million visitors at any time, in opposition to earlier parks for the proletarians this was thought to be a classless park, a park for all (of course with a built in profit motive). To get rid of all reference to the existing society all buildings were painted white, all borrowed from the real world was so to say whitewashed and made free of references.

view of Lilliputia

Among the most incredible and original attractions was Lilliputian the midget city, 300 midget from the travelling circuses and freak shows of the whole continent was offered a permanent experimental society within the park. As the city only needed to be half size of an ordinary city it was possible to build this utopian cardboard city on a small budget. It was complete with it's own parliament, a beach with midget lifeguards, a midget theatre, stables with small ponies, and a complete midget fire department responding every hour to put out imaginary fires.

Lilliputias midget fire department

To exaggerate the scale and enlarge the illusion from time to time giants were instructed to take a stroll within the city. The special extravaganza of Liliputian was enlarged by everybody wearing uniform and being showered with aristocratic titles. At the same time all kinds of promiscuity, homosexuality and nymphomania was encouraged. Marriages broke down even before they were celebrated, and 80% of the newborn were illegitimate.

To increase the illusion giants on a regular interval took a stroll in the city

Beacon Tower
On of the masterpieces of Dreamland was the Beacon Tower, with a height of 120 m it was among the highest buildings of that time, it could be seen miles away and was illuminated by 10.000 electric lights. But all this was not enough, a year after its completion the owner gets the idea to equip the tower with a light on top more powerful than the one marking the entrance to New York harbour, potentially this would lure ships off course, and add real ship wreckage to the illusion of the park.

The mix of fiction and relity succeded so well that when Dreamland burns down to the ground in 1911, the newspapers waited 24 printing the story to make absolutely sure it was not a trick catastrophe.

Rem Koolhaas, Delirious New York, 1978, Monacelli Press