Saturday, October 25, 2008

Old Antique Vintage 1906 Postcard Coney Island NY Globe Tower

Visit Moody's Postcards, your source for vintage, collectible postcards!

Subscribe to Moody's Postcard Blog by Email

The 1906 S. Langsdorf & Company old antique postcard shown here played a part in a huge fraud that began in 1906 with plans by Samuel Friede to construct the Globe Tower on the property of Steeplechase Park on Coney Island New York. Coney Island, due south of Brooklyn, was the ultimate amusement park destination in 1906 and actually consisted of three amusement parks including Steeplechase Park, Luna Park and Dreamland Park. With access for New Yorkers by auto, streetcar, railroad and a steamship landing, there was no shortage of patrons for the diverse attractions available including roller coasters, which by the way, were invented there. Steeplechase Park was opened in 1897by George C. Tilyou and Captain Paul Boyton opened Sea Lion Park the same year and the boom began in earnest. In 1903 Sea Lion Park was bought by Frederick Thompson and Elmer Dundy. They renamed it Luna Park, installed 250,000 lights and it became an overnight success. This opportunity attracted William Reynolds who built Dreamland Park in 1904 and added one million more lights to the Coney Island skyline.

This success and the wonderland excitement created the atmosphere that would make it possible for Samuel Friede, the inventor of Globe Tower, to pull of one of the larger swindles of the time. Friede began by leasing a small plot of Steeplechase land on Surf Avenue from George Tilyou which would be the location of the base of the tower. Eight huge pedestals would support a massive globe that would be 700 feet high with eleven floors and the largest building in the world. A transportation center with a parking garage, railroad station, subway and link to the steamship pier would be underground at the base of the globe with elevators to carry patrons to all levels of the globe. The first level would be 150 feet above ground level with the other floors 50 feet above each other. The first floor would contain a restaurant, skating rink, casino, bowling alley and other amusement park fair. Another floor would contain the Aerial Hippodrome with non-stop circus acts as well as a miniature railroad. The floors would increase in their snob appeal as you moved up with other floors containing a revolving restaurant surrounding a ballroom, more restaurants, a hotel, an observation area, a U. S. Weather Bureau and at the top would be revolving searchlight. Donald Trump would be proud!

An ad was placed in the New York Herald in May of 1906 offering investors a chance to get in on this investment in the Globe Tower that was projected to cost $1,500,000 and was expected to pay up to 100% interest annually. Not unlike current times, investors flocked to the project and plunked down their hard earned dollars with visions of a fortune in their future. There was a ceremony for laying the cornerstone on May 26, 1906 with the usual pomp and circumstance. By the end of the year, the foundations were still not laid and investors began to get nervous so on 17 February 1907 another ceremony was held and the first piece of steel was installed. Promises were made to be 50% complete by 15 May and 100% complete by the end of 1908. By 1908 the fraud was evident, the dream was dashed and there was no government bailout. BUT, we did get some very nice postcards. This postcard along with 10,000 additional vintage postcards are available on my website Moody’s Postcards. CATCH POSTCARD FEVER!! The only catch is that it might be habit forming.

No comments: