Outdoor Vaudeville, Coney Island, New York

Amusement parks and related mass-culture venues emerged as important sites for the expansion of “cheap” or “family” vaudeville between 1901 and 1906. As such, they also contributed significantly to the simultaneous growth of the exhibition end of the motion-picture industry. Parks and arcades also owed much to the culture of the traveling shows that were so important to motion-picture exhibition from 1897 until about 1902, when distributors like Sigmund Lubin were careful to ensure that their advertising extended to “park managers and street-fair men.” As late as 1905, the popularity of movie screenings in such venues—including outdoor cafes like this one at Coney Island—also led to an increase in the popularity of arcades, mutoscopes, and other film-showing devices.

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