Coney Island's amusement park Astroland recently opened for its final season. Soon it goes the way of all things old tymey—trammeled 'neath the cloven hooves of developer Joe Sitt, who bought it up in November. But let others moan and groan (and yes, even petition) against the upcoming destruction and condofication of Astroland. Whatever preposterous excrescence will soon stand where the Cyclone once did, we know it won't be more mind-blowing than what preceded it. Midgets! Incest! Nuremburg! Welcome to Lilliputia!
The most interesting part of Dreamland, the precursor to Astroland (and now where the NYS Aquarium is) was a Utopian village called Lilliputia, a miniature village with 300 midget inhabitants and half-sized cardboard buildings. According to historian Jeffrey Stanton:
Three hundred midgets, who had been scattered across the continent as attractions at various World's Fairs, upon manager Samuel W. Gumpertz's request, came to Dreamland to live in an experimental community. Their city, in a area 80 x 175 feet, was built at half scale as a replica 15th century Nuremburg, Germany. Everything was built in proportional scale of the inhabitants, from the theater to the beach lifeguard towers and toilets in their homes. The midgets had their own parliament, their own Midget City Fire Department that responded hourly to a false alarm, and their own beach complete with midget lifeguards. There was also a "Midget Theater", circus arena, miniature livery stable with diminutive horses, bantam chickens, and midget Chinese laundrymen. To accentuate the "little people's size, a giant or two sometimes walked the area. During the park's off hours, the "little people" lead a typical mundane family life.But according to another source, "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." Mundane family life, indeed!
Luxury condos or no, blimp landing pads or no blimp landing pads, Coney Island has seen it all. "Whatever you come looking for at Coney Island, it's all going to be there," promised the creative director of the new development. In that case we can't wait to see his take on Tiny Town.