Coney Island's 1907 "buried alive" attraction

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Morbid Anatomy's Joanna Ebenstein is currently Coney Island Museum's Artist in Residence. As such, she's curating what can only be a fantastic exhibition about the amusement park during its turn of the 20th century heyday! The exhibit, titled The Great Coney Island Spectacularium, launches in April. During her research, Joanna dug up a 1907 New York Times article describing a glorious attraction called "Night and Morning: or, A Journey Through Heaven and Hell." From the NYT, April 21, 1907:

"The first room into which the people enter is like a big coffin with a glass top and the lid off. You look up through the roof and see the graveyard flowers and the weeping willows and other such atmospheric things. When everything is ready the coffin is lowered into the ground. It shivers and shakes, and when it tips up on end you hear a voice above give a warning to be careful. Then the lid is closed and you hear the thud of the dirt.

"The man who is conducting the party now announces that they must have a spirit to guide them. A subject is put into a small coffin and in an instant he is transformed into a skeleton. Then a real skeleton appears and delivers a solemn lecture in which he tells the people that they must 'leave all hope on the outside'–a gentle perversion of the old 'abandon hope all ye who enter here.' …

Now there is a great clanking of chains and the side of the coffin comes out and visitors pass down into the mysterious caverns. First they see a twentieth century idea of Hell, with monopolists frying in pans and janitors fastened to hot radiators…. After the modern Hell the people come to the Chamber of Skeletons. Though these skeletons haven't a stitch of clothes on them, they smoke cigarettes most unconcernedly all the time just like live men…. Next you come to the panorama of Hell, where you see a vision of all the condemned spirits being washed down by the River of Death. Now comes the big change and you find yourself in a large ordinary room, with cathedral-like windows through which you can look outside and see the graveyard which looms up with a weird effect. Like great mist you can see the spirits rising from the graves and ascending to Heaven…

The great transformation now takes place. The whole grave yard floats off into space with the single exception of an immense cross, where the form of a young girl is seen clinging to the Rock of Ages. Fountains foam with all their prismatic colors, and the air is filled with troops of circling angels. The room itself vanishes and you find yourself in a bower of flowers under a blue sky. At the climax and angel comes down with a halo which she places on the head of the girl who is still clinging to the cross Then all that vanishes and you are within four blank walls once more."

Buried Alive at Coney Island: "Night and Morning," 1907