The Aftermath of the Dreamland Fire
On May 27, 1911, a huge fire illuminated the sky and sent fire companies from all over Brooklyn rushing to Coney Island. Dreamland Park was ablaze. Unlike Steeplechase Park or the Bowery which were rebuilt after being destroyed by fire, Dreamland would be no more. "The catastrophic fire happened in 1911 but its lingering aftermath still affects Coney Island land use policy a century later," said Charles Denson. "As soon as the ashes cooled, the city took over the site and has been claiming beachfront parcels ever since."
When the Coney Island History Project opens on Memorial Day Weekend, we'll commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Dreamland Fire with an exhibition of photos and a themed walking tour. Historic images of Dreamland before and after the fire will be juxtaposed with the site as it is today and how it developed over the last hundred years. The exhibit will be illuminated by oral history interviews with the 101-year-old son of the Coney Island police chief on duty that night and the granddaughter of the Coney Island fire chief who fought the blaze.
Charles Denson, History Project director and the author of Coney Island: Lost and Found, will lead a walking tour on Friday, May 27. To receive advance info on the tour, which will be by reservation, please sign up for our e-mail list.