Established in 1955 with the purpose of honoring the American cowboys, what was then called the Cowboy Hall of Fame has become today’s National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. The 200,000 square foot facility features Western and Native American artifacts, sculptures, art and historical galleries. It is one of Oklahoma City’s more popular attractions and one of the most respected museums of its kind in the United States.
The 1960’s were a time of upheaval in society, fashion, attitudes and especially music. Before 1963, the music of the sixties still reflected the sound, style and beliefs of the previous decade and many of the hit records were by artists who had found mainstream success in the 1950s, like Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, Dion, and The Everly Brothers. In 1963 and the years to follow, a number of social influences changed what popular music was and gave birth to the diversity that we experience with music today. The assassination of President Kennedy, the escalation of the war in Vietnam and the forward-progress of the Civil Rights Movement all greatly impacted the mood of American culture and the music began to reflect that change. The “British Invasion” also began around 1963 with the arrival of The Beatles on the music scene and the type of rabid fandom that followed them would change the way people would view and interact with music and musicians forever. In this section we will cover the history of the “British Invasion”, Motown and R&B, Folk and Protest music, and the large amount of variation that emerged in Rock music throughout the sixties.
Popular Music Genres of the 1960’s
Surf Rock and Psychedelic Rock
Roots Rock and Hard Rock
Folk Rock and Protest Music
The Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Cream, The Yardbirds, Donovan, Manfred Mann, The Kinks, Herman’s Hermits, Tom Jones, Dusty Springfield, The Animals The Marvelettes, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, The Four Tops, The Drifters, The Temptations, The Miracles, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight & the Pips, The Spinners, Aretha Franklin The Beach Boys, The Ventures, The Champs, The Doors, The Grateful Dead, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Jefferson Airplane, Jan and Dean, The Kingsmen, The Trashmen Janis Joplin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Steppenwolf, Roy Orbison, Procol Harum, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Animals, The Band, The Troggs Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, The Mamas & the Papas, Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills & Nash, The Lovin’ Spoonful, The Byrds, The Turtles, Gordon Lightfoot, Peter, Paul and Mary The Persuasions & The Heartaches & The Concepts & The Five Jades & The Notations & The Chessmen & The Five Sharks & The Royal Counts & The Zircons & The Five Fashions & The Del Capris & The Shells
The “British Invasion” is the name given to the period of time in the early to mid-1960’s, during which many British rock bands and pop artists found mainstream success in the United States and worldwide. Many of these bands first started by covering American songs and showcasing an American Rock ‘n’ Roll and R&B influence in their sounds. As these bands gained popularity, many of them ventured into new music territory and created their own unique styles. The one band that comes to mind when speaking of the British Invasion is The Beatles, who first broke into the US music scene in 1963, but really became popular in 1964 after appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show. The Beatles dominated worldwide charts from that point in time until they broke up in 1970. The phenomenon that surrounded them was known as Beatlemania and many up and coming music acts emulated their “Liverpool Sound”. The band holds many musical records to this day reflecting album sales and number one singles and they’re music remains some of the most popular of all time. They can be easily described as the most influential group of the 1960’s. Some other notable British Invasion acts include The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Who, Herman’s Hermits, Tom Jones, and Donovan, some of whom reached comparable success levels to the Beatles but had different influences on music all together.
The Very Best of Herman’s Hermits The Rolling Stones: Hot Rocks 1964 – 1971 The Best of The Animals The Very Best of the Yardbirds
Motown And R&B
The “Motown Sound” and popular R&B music had a major significance in terms of the Civil Rights movement and integration in American society during the sixties. Motown started as a Detroit-based record label in the late fifties and early sixties, but it quickly turned into much more as the acts gained popularity worldwide. Motown records consisted mainly of African-American groups, singers, songwriters and management and their musical and business success proved in breaking down the barriers of segregation and granted African-American performers and musicians a chances to reappropriate much of the success that had been credited to white rock ‘n’ rollers and pop artists who had success in singing “black music” during the previous decade. Two of the most influential groups to come out of the Motown sound were Smokey Robinson and the Miracles and Diana Ross and the Supremes, both of which had as much chart success as any of the rock groups that dominated the airwaves during the sixties. The success of Motown also paved the way for R&B singers and groups who were not necessarily a part of the movement to also enjoy mainstream success. Some other popular Motown and 60’s R&B artists include The Temptations, The Marvelettes, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, and the Jackson Five.
The Definitive Collection: Smokey Robinson and The Miracles The Supremes Gold The Essentials: The Drifters The Very Best of Aretha Franklin: The 60’s
Rock And Its Subgenres
While rock ‘n’ roll music entered the popular music spectrum in the 1950s, rock music really came into its own in the 1960s. Rock music dominated the popular music scene during the decade and as the genre grew and changed, many diverse and new subgenres emerged, all tied to original rock but each with their own unique style and purpose. These specific subgenres also had varying levels of popularity throughout the decade and many are still popular today. Quite a few rock bands and musicians oscillated between these genres depending on what was popular at the time and used it as a way to experiment with finding their own true sound. Some of the rock subgenres that we will touch upon are surf, psychedelic, roots, and hard rock. It is important to remember that the specific artists we discuss in these various sections often fall into more than one category and it is up for debate amongst their fans what genre they best represent. We have tried our best to categorize these artists and realize there was much cross-over during the decade.
Surf Rock and Psychedelic Rock
Surf rock began in Southern California as a type of dance music that was mostly instrumental and it became quite popular in the early to mid sixties, until the British Invasion took over the music scene. The subject matter for surf rock was quite literally surfing, however, that expanded as the genre grew in popularity to songs about girls, cars and general teenage antics. The most influential and popular group to come out of the genre were The Beach Boys, whose vocal harmonies and well-crafted compositions came to define the genre. The Beach Boys were one of the only bands to come out of the genre and sustain their success. Some other important surf rock acts include Jan and Dean, The Ventures and The Champs.
The Beach Boys Greatest Hits Volume 1 The Essential Jefferson Airplane Experience Hendrix: The Best of Jimi Hendrix The Best of The Kingsmen
Psychedelic rock was popular during the latter half of the 1960s and reached its peak at the end of the decade. Psychedelic music was associated with the hippie counter-culture and hallucinogenic drug use and it was created with the intention of “enhancing” the experience of listeners who were using LSD or other mind-altering substances. The lyrics were often strange and made reference to drugs and bands would often use instruments that were not usual, like the sitar, tabla, harpsichord and organ. There was much experimentation in the sound and much of it was influenced by Eastern and Indian music. Psychedelic rock along with Folk rock became two of the most recognizable sounds associated with 1967’s “Summer of Love” phenomenon. Many popular rock bands experimented with this genre, including The Beatles, The Doors, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Jefferson Airplane, Cream, Pink Floyd, and The Yardbirds.
Roots Rock and Hard Rock
Roots rock emerged in the mid to late 1960s as a combination of several genres and subgenres of rock music that were popular at the time. Roots rock combined elements of folk music, blues, country and rock ‘n’ roll. And, the genre was exemplified by its “back to basics” sound. Bob Dylan is thought to have pioneered the genre with the release of his 1966 album Blonde on Blonde that demonstrated what roots rock was to become. Many of the most popular bands of the time joined the “roots revival” and crafted albums of their own that featured and experimented with a roots sound. Some of the bands that created music in the style of this broad genre included The Rolling Stones, The Doors, The Beatles, The Band, and Creedence Clearwater Revival.
The Essential Janis Joplin The Very Best of The Doors The Who: Greatest Hits The Best of The Troggs
Hard rock took the elements of rock ‘n’ roll and made them heavier as the genre formed in the middle of the decade. The sound is characterized by more aggressive tones and delivery. Hard rock vocalists are identified by their higher range and distinct and often raspy voices. The music was influenced heavily by blues rock, garage rock, and rhythm and blues. This style became associated with rebellious youth and an anti-authority demeanor, with a few acts even destroying their own instruments on stage (like The Who). Due to their hard-partying lifestyles, many musicians that were a part of the hard rock scene developed drug and alcohol problems. As a result of these problems, quite a few influential musicians died at a young age from substance abuse or accidents related to substance abuse like Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. Notable hard rock bands form the 1960s include The Who, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and Steppenwolf.
Folk Rock And Protest Music
Folk rock came onto the scene as a popular genre in the mid-sixties and much of it grew out of the protest movements that were active during those turbulent times. Much of the folk rock and protest movement was born out of the emerging group of singer-songwriters that were influenced by the folk musicians of the 1930s. Bob Dylan became one of the most prominent songwriters of the decade with many popular groups such as The Byrds and Peter, Paul and Mary covering his songs successfully. Dylan even saw success as a solo performer and was recognized by his unusual voice. This genre was characterized by its melodic sound and did not necessarily have to connect to the protest movements at the time, although lyrically a lot of the folk rock contained protest messages.
The Essential Simon and Garfunkel Retrospective The Best of Buffalo Springfield The Essential Bob Dylan The Best of The Mamas and the Papas
Protest music was distinctly different in that it always had a message and was not confined to the sound and style of folk rock. This music was often a reaction to social injustice, cultural changes, and news events. And, in many cases, it brought awareness to the younger generation who would then join the protest, therefore growing the movements. This genre was not necessarily specific to certain artists either, as many mainstream musicians decided to contribute to the cannon with their own feelings. For example, R&B and Soul singer Same Cooke wrote and recorded “A Change Is Gonna Come” in 1963, a song that became an anthem for the Civil Rights movement in America, along with others like Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” and James Brown’s “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud” from 1963 and 1968 respectively. Another issue that protest music was used to address was the war in Vietnam and its escalation during the decade. As more and more American troops were being sent to Vietnam with virtually no progress being made, an anti-war movement began to gain steam in the mid-sixties and protest music accompanied it. Some examples of anti-Vietnam songs were Pete Seeger’s “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy from 1967, The Door’s “The Unknown Soldier” from 1968, and Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War” from 1963. Both folk music and protest music were connected to the “hippie” movement at the time and greatly influenced and were influenced by the feelings of freedom, love and peace that characterized the hippies. Some examples of folk rock and protest musicians from the 1960s include Peter, Paul and Mary, Cat Stevens, Buffalo Springfield, Simon and Garfunkel, and Pete Seeger.
The Golden Age of Acappella 1963-1973 exploded in urban America along the acappella corridor that stretched from Boston to Philadelphia; a regional sound that captured the heart and minds of young people in the inner cities. The birth of Acappella as a new urban music genre began in New York City in a small record shop called Times Square Records run and operated by Irving “Slim” Rose. The term Acappella was the word that Slim Rose came up with to promote music that was made without music. Recordings made without music was played on the radio by vocal groups, vinyl acappella records were sold in record stores and Acappella Shows drew hundreds of teenagers throughout New Jersey and New York. Thus a new urban sound created a niche in the music industry competing with Motown, British Invasion, folk and many other musical genres. Acappella became the starting point and catalyst for oldies radio programing, reissues of records of the late 40’s and 50’s and the preservation and promotion of rhythm and blues vocal groups. Amid the social and cultural revolution taking place during the 1960’s acappella as a whole rose above ethnic and racial barriers and became a dynamic musical movement in American history. I would like to thank Abraham Santiago who wrote the paragraph about Acappella Music for us If you would like to find out much more about the subject please visit http://www.ricocreative.com/harmonyreview.htm
The Chessmen Album Cover The Heartaches Album Cover Poster For 1st Acappella Review Show in New York
Music Festivals And Their Influence
The sixties was a decade in which music festivals flourished, especially at the end of the decade. The Monterey Pop Festival took place in 1967, and featured some of the most popular rock musicians of the time and was one of the first heavily attended rock festivals. Many of the most popular acts of the decade had their first major American appearance at this festival like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and The Who. The Woodstock Music and Art Fair of 1969 represents one of the most iconic events of the sixties and is thought of as the culmination of the social revolution that took place during those times. It was a free concert that lasted for three days and showcased some of the most iconic musicians of the time. It is thought to have exemplified the popularity of the hippie counter-culture with an estimated 500,000 attendees reveling in free love, peace and rock music.
Top Songs Of The 1960s
Popular songs from the Sixties Decade, arranged by year but in no particular order. Do you remember listening to these songs on the radio?
The Twist- Chubby Checker
It’s Now or Never – Elvis Presley
Georgia On My Mind – Ray Charles
Teen Angel – Mark Dinning
Save the Last Dance For Me – The Drifters
Cathy’s Clown – The Everly Brothers
Walk, Don’t Run – The Ventures
Stand By Me – Ben E. King
Blue Moon – The Marcels
Please Mr. Postman – The Marvelettes
The Wanderer – Dion
Calendar Girl – Neil Sedaka
At Last – Etta James
The Lion Sleeps Tonight – The Tokens
Surfin’ Safari – The Beach Boys
Sherry – The Four Seasons
Return to Sender – Elvis Presley
You’ve Really Got a Hold On Me – The Miracles
Love Me Do – The Beatles
Green Onions – Booker T. & the M.G.s
I Can’t Stop Loving You – Ray Charles
She Loves You – The Beatles
Louie Louie – The Kingsmen
Surfin’ USA – The Beach Boys
It’s My Party – Lesley Gore
Be My Baby – The Ronettes
Hey Paula – Paul & Paula
Ring of Fire – Johnny Cash
Twist and Shout – The Beatles
House of the Rising Sun – The Animals
I Want to Hold Your Hand – The Beatles
Oh, Pretty Woman – Roy Orbison
Where Did Our Love Go? – The Supremes
The Way You Do the Things You Do – The Temptations
You Really Got Me – The Kinks
Like A Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction – The Rolling Stones
My Generation – The Who
My Girl – The Temptations
The Sound of Silence – Simon & Garfunkel
Mr. Tambourine Man – The Byrds
Help! – The Beatles
Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys
Yellow Submarine/Eleanor Rigby – The Beatles
When A Man Loves A Woman – Percy Sledge
Wild Thing – The Troggs
Uptight (Everything’s Alright) – Stevie Wonder
Monday, Monday – The Mamas and the Papas
These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ – Nancy Sinatra
A Whiter Shade of Pale – Procol Harum
For What It’s Worth – Buffalo Springfield
I’m A Believer – The Monkees
Light My Fire – The Doors
All You Need Is Love – The Beatles
Happy Together – The Turtles
Somebody to Love – Jefferson Airplane
All Along the Watchtower – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay – Otis Redding
Chain of Fools – Aretha Franklin
What A Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
Piece of My Heart – Big Brother & The Holding Company (Janis Joplin)
Hey Jude – The Beatles
White Room – Cream
Sugar, Sugar – The Archies
In The Year 2525 – Zager and Evans
Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In – The Fifth Dimension
My Way – Frank Sinatra
Whole Lotta Love – Led Zeppelin
Space Oddity – David Bowie
Bad Moon Rising – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Some hits from the 60’s
Apache The Shadows 1960
The Lion Sleeps Tonight The Tokens 1961
Please Mr. Postman The Marvelettes 1961
Return To Sender Elvis Presley 1962
She Loves You The Beatles 1963
I Want To Hold Your Hand The Beatles 1963
Baby Love – The Supremes 1964
The House Of The Rising Sun – The Animals 1964
I’m Into Something Good – Herman’s Hermits 1964
I Got You Babe Sonny & Cher 1965
Wild Thing The Troggs 1966.
Good Vibrations The Beach Boys 1966
These Boots Are Made For Walkin Nancy Sinatra 1966
A Whiter Shade Of Pale Procol Harum 1967
Lily The Pink Scaffold 1968
I Heard It Through The Grapevine Marvin Gaye 1969
Honky Tonk Women The Rolling Stones 1969
Something In The Air Thunderclap Newman 1969
In The Year 2525 Zager & Evans 1969
Bad Moon Rising Creedence Clearwater Revival 1969
Permanent outdoor recreation areas have been around at least as long as written history. Public areas are among the essential amenities any society develops, and their improvement is relatively cheap advertising for the local monarch (large statues make great decorations). But public resort areas with amusement facilities did not appear in Europe until the Renaissance. In England, they were called “pleasure gardens,” and they flourished from about 1550 to 1700. They first appeared in the form of resort grounds operated by inns and taverns. They quickly proved good for business, and became more elaborate. Vauxhall Gardens opened in London in 1661 covering 12 acres, and admission was free. Entertainment was provided: acrobatic acts, fireworks, music — Mozart performed there as an 8-year-old prodigy in 1764. Professional showmen saw the money-making potential of the concept, and began operating them for profit.
In early America, amusement parks began as picnic grounds. Some were built by local breweries (there’s much more profit when you can sell your beer directly, rather than through middlemen). These “beer gardens” offered the working man an inexpensive day’s relaxation for the family, including plenty of open space, concerts, sometimes bathing, and always beer and food. Attendance was promoted by streetcar companies and local railroad and excursion boat operators. Many parks were developed by trolley companies. They bought their electricity at a flat monthly rate — build amusement parks at the end of the line and you boosted weekend use at little added expense! Before long, hundreds of such parks were built all over the country.
Expositions, particularly the 1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition, provided another model for American amusement parks. The Chicago event was the first to concentrate rides, shows and concessions in a separate “midway.” As discussed in a previous chapter, these expositions attracted teeming crowds with a multitude of lures: entertainment, education, recreation, and trade. Entrepreneurs soon learned that each attraction could boost its attendance by virtue of its proximity to every other popular feature, and that all of them together could turn profits that could never be realized by stand-alone attractions.
The story of amusement parks is largely the story of George C. Tilyou, a masterful entrepreneur whose vision created the amusement park in a form that remained unchanged until Disney created theme parks.
New York City had the money and the crowds: finances to build parks and a huge pool of working-class families looking for close and affordable relief from the grim realities of daily life. Coney Island, a five-mile stretch of beach at the entrance to New York Harbor where Brooklyn meets the sea, was already a popular seaside resort for the city and environs. A pleasant and largely undeveloped spot so close to a huge population in need of close and cheap recreation, it was destined to become home to a succession of wonderful parks.
The first attractions on Coney Island were racetracks built for wealthy vacationers in 1880. A collection of attractions suited to more moderate incomes followed. Amusement rides were popular. In 1884, Lamarcus Thompson built the first amusement railroad in the world, the “Switchback Railroad.” Its two wooden undulating tracks started ran down a 600-foot structure. It cost Thompson $1600 to build, but at 10¢ per ride, it took in $600-700 per day.
Young George Tilyou, owner of an array of single rides scattered around the island, saw the gigantic 250′ Ferris wheel at the 1893 Chicago exposition. Unable to buy it (it had already been sold), he had his own 125-foot version built. It was the most popular single attraction on Coney Island until Captain Paul Boyton came to town.
Hugely famous for daredevil swimming feats performed in an inflatable, rubberized suit of his own invention, Boyton had opened Chutes Park in Chicago the previous year to take advantage of the crowds visiting the World’s Columbian Exposition. On Coney Island, Boyton opened Sea Lion Park in 1895,enclosed by a fence and featuring a one-price admission that entitled the visitor to enjoy all the attractions, including the spectacular “Shoot-the-Chutes” (a water-flume ride) and the Captain’s own swimming exhibitions.
Once Tilyou understood the idea, he ran with it. He bought and improved an 1100-foot gravity-driven mechanical ride, the “Steeplechase Horses,” and opened Steeplechase Park on 15 ocean-front acres the next year. In 1902 he hired a huge illusion ride, Frederic Thompson’s “A Trip to the Moon,” that he had seen at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo. The next year, Thompson took the ride away to open competing Luna Park with Elmer Dundy.
Boyton’s early success, without significant competition (at first), made him reluctant to tamper with a successful and imperfectly-understood formula. With his “it ain’t broke so don’t fix it” attitude, he failed to add or improve attractions. However, Tilyou’s changing array of attractions at Steeplechase Park, each more spectacular than the last, followed the public taste for the new and different, a taste that turned quickly into a distinct preference, then a demand. What pleased the paying public one year was old-hat the next. Sea Lion Park, hopelessly out of date, fell out of favor and closed. Its 22 acres were purchased by Thompson and Dundy, who retained only the “Chute the Chutes” from Sea Lion and opened Luna Park on the site in 1903.
Luna Park featured hundreds of thousands of electric lights (the technological sensation of the time), including nightly displays by huge searchlights mounted in its central tower, illuminating the dozens of other fanciful towers and minarets. The influence of the Chicago fair is reflected in the names of many of Luna’s attractions: “The Canals of Venice,” “Eskimo Village,” “A Trip to the North Pole.” There was a $1.95 one-price admission available, but most visitors opted to pay 10¢ for most attractions, 25¢ for the spectacular ones. Luna Park repaid its entire $700,000 cost in just six weeks.
The next season, Luna was rivaled by Dreamland, whose policy seemed to be to do everything twice as big as its competitors. Attractions included a copy of the “Shoot the Chutes,” “Fighting the Flames,” a show in which firefighters demonstrated rescues from a six-story blazing building (two stories higher than the one premiered by Luna, and later expanded to an entire burning city block). Dreamland affected a higher tone than its competitors, presenting attractions with cultural and even biblical themes. Dr. Martin Couney’s “Infant Incubator” displayed premature infants and the scientific wonders developed to help them live (of the 8,000 babies brought to Dr. Couney during his residence at Dreamland, 7500 survived).
All three parks were built in the same style, white plaster fantasies similar to those already familiar to the public from the World’s Columbian Exposition.
See 1903 Edison film of Luna Park and Steeplechase Park
THESE LINKS DON’T WORK IN THE SAMPLE PAGE,
BUT ON THE DISK THEY LEAD TO 12 MINUTES OF RARE FILM
See a 1940 sound film of Coney Island
Samuel W. Gumpertz came to Dreamland to build “Lilliputia,” a midget city where he housed 300 midgets for the 1904 opening season. The background midi for this page is the sweet waltz “Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland,” written for that inaugural season. Gumpertz scoured the world for freaks, visiting Egypt, Asia and Africa five times each (including two trips to Africa’s unexplored center) and dozens of trips to Europe. Besides freaks, he imported exotic humans: Filipino blowgun shooters, Algerian horsemen, Somali warriors, “Wild Men from Borneo” who really were from Borneo and plate-lipped Ubangi women. Never as popular as its competitors, Dreamland burned to the ground in 1911. Gumpertz’s Dreamland Circus Sideshow prospered for years thereafter in another location. Its success brought copiers, like the World Circus Freak Show opened in 1922, followed by Hubert’s Museum, the Palace of Wonders Freak Show and more. All had fat ladies, seal boys, pinheads, electric girls, dog-faced boys and on and on. Gumpertz left Coney Island in 1929 to manage the Barnum & Bailey Circus.
Steeplechase, “The Funny Place,” was every bit as good as its nickname. With rides and attractions updated every year, the public could count on novelty, thrills, and the delight of seeing other people have fun. Involvement was the name of the game at Steeplechase. At every turn (beginning with the entrance) customers were tricked into pratfalls and comic indignities, then allowed to recover with a laugh as they viewed others suffering the same treatment. At the “Blowhole Theater,” you could watch as patrons exiting the Steeplechase ride passed a dwarf clown who would control air jets to blow men’s hats off and ladies’ dresses upward. The spills and the thrills were all designed to allow the odd moment of “I couldn’t help it” contact with one’s pretty date … a ride on the double-saddled Steeplechase Horses wasn’t safe without a firm hug, and a tumble on the Human Roulette Wheel often brought a flash of ankle and a friendly pile-up. Especially popular was the El Dorado carousel, restored from the Dreamland fire and restored to its full glory of 42 feet high and lit with 6000 lamps over three platforms in ascending tiers, each revolving at a different speed.
Built of wood and plaster, the grand old parks were like well-laid fires ready to burn. And burn they did, some repeatedly. Things were never quite the same after the beginning of the Great War (WWI). Faced with unprecedented horrors in real life, many patrons lost the taste for freaks, mock battles and burning blocks of buildings. Then the subway to the city opened, and paradoxically, it only hastened the decline in “business as usual.” It brought millions of people to the resort, but few of them had much money to spend. They crowded out the beaches, and their lower-class manners made former patrons, people with a little more couth and a little more money, uncomfortable. The people with enough money to go elsewhere went elsewhere and took their money with them. Attractions that had prospered when patronized by the middle class went bankrupt trying to lower prices and deliver the same services to the poor.
The Depression finished the job for most of the parks. The 1939-40 World’s Fair stole away many paying customers. The sideshows were hit hard by a late 1930s ban on outside ballys. New York’s notoriously hard-on-business regulations had not helped businesses weakened by years of falling attendance and neglect, followed by a “clean up the decaying area” campaign that was just a thinly-disguised attempt to make way for profitable redevelopment. Steeplechase, the first to prosper, was the last to close. Tilyou’s grand vision, by then only a shadow of its former grandeur, wheezed to a halt in 1964, a victim of changing times and urban decay. Its few remaining buildings were quickly bulldozed by the land’s new owner before the city could declare it a historic landmark.
Today, the island is still home to beach and boardwalk, but there is nothing as spectacular as the early amusement parks. The New York Aquarium now stands on Dreamland’s site. Steeplechase’s famed 250-foot Parachute Tower is the sole standing reminder of the glorious past. Ironically, the forces that killed the freak shows support one as a curiosity: “Coney Island USA” operates “Sideshows by the Seashore”, partially funded by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.
Atlantic City, New Jersey, was a seaside resort, the eastern terminus of a railroad which helped develop the resort. Its boardwalk dates from 1870. Starting in 1882, a series of piers were built out over the ocean, offering all types of entertainment for a single admission price. In 1898 the 2,000-foot Steel Pier was built, followed in 1902 by the Million Dollar Pier, from which Houdini dove shackled into the ocean, and on which Teddy Roosevelt campaigned for his Bull Moose party. Top bands and entertainers attracted visitors. In the summer, famous acts like Steel Pier’s Diving Horse and a high-wire motorcycle act swelled attendance. H.J. Heinz was so taken with the sheer numbers of people coming to Atlantic City, people on whom advertising impressions could be made, that in 1898 he opened Heinz Pier. The pier’s unusual premise was peace and quiet, a place to get away from the crowds. There was a sun parlor with reclining chairs and writing desks, free food samples (Heinz products, of course), and a Heinz pickle pin as a parting gift. Coney Island impresario George Tilyou built a branch of his Steeplechase Park here in Atlantic City in 1908, calling it Steeplechase Pier, where the amusements included the Sugar Bowl Slide, the Mexican Hat Bowl, and Flying Chairs that swung riders out over the ocean. Like Coney Island, Atlantic City enjoyed a sparkling heyday and a long decline, until legalized gambling revitalized at least part of its tourist trade.
Other parks all over the country went through charming beginnings and fantastic developments. Some have prospered continuously, others flickered and died.
Starting in 1915, new diversions (motion pictures) and new mobility (the automobile) made their mark. Many parks closed, and the Depression that began in 1929 forced the closing of many others. 2000 parks had flourished in the U.S. in 1910, but by 1934 there were fewer than 500. The same economic changes that forced circuses to adapt or die caused the park business to decline throughout World War II. Some parks failed because they did not learn what George Tilyou had always understood, and Captain Paul Boyton did not: no matter what wonders you have created, the public demands something better every year. Other parks had no room to change — the automobile would bring a vast influx of customers from greater distances, but only if they could get there on good roads and only if they found room to park. The rising value of real estate demanded more intensely profitable use of every acre in developing areas, a factor that also hit drive-in movie theaters. The postwar prosperity and the “Baby Boom” injected a little new life into a moribund industry, helped by the introduction of children’s areas, “Kiddielands,” spearheaded by Kennywood near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,
Disneyland and after
In 1955, Walt Disney, already a wildly successful maker of family movies and television, marshalled his already-considerable resources: universal brand name recognition, an established stable of instantly recognizable characters, a weekly nationwide television audience, and a large parcel of unused land in Anaheim, California. He invented the “theme park,” though the term was not used then: Disneyland, an environment completely under control with every element approved by the family-friendly and trusted Disney, designed for the whole family. And it was designed to be more than just a local attraction; it was meant as a destination for vacationers nationwide.
Disney was always a canny businessman. He had no need to pay for advertising … his hour-long promotional “documentaries” on Disneyland’s opening aired as profitable program material!
Disneyland’s image, like the rest of the Disney image, was squeaky-clean. Everything was guaranteed to be safe, spotless, entertaining and profitable. All was made in the Disney image, owned and operated without middlemen. Gone were the carnival’s tawdry games, the questionable food stands, the itinerant performers. In their place were the very same hard-to-win games run by the company and staffed by earnest teenagers on summer break, and food stands run by the company. The shows were all family-friendly, with well-scrubbed college-age performers working for low wages on the premise that this experience would be good training for their future entertainment careers. The hot-to-trot girl shows remained only as a sanitized pastiche, as fresh-faced college girls performed hourly musical revues in Disney-studio costumes. The sole reminder of the ten-in-one talker was the scripted “hurry, hurry, hurry” of the youthful trained announcer twirling his fake mustache and calling everyone to his attraction — not a “Museum of Oddities” or a “Gallery of Freaks,” but a barbershop quartet or a banjo band. There were no more freaks … well, there was this really big mouse. Disneyland, and later Disney World in Orlando, Florida, still attract families on the strength of an image the rest of the Disney operation seems to have abandoned (that sound you hear is Walt spinning in his grave as the next episode of Disney-distributedEllen or one of its successors airs).
Several companies tried to copy Disneyland’s success, but none had Disney’s pre-sold combination of name recognition and (essentially free) nationwide advertising on the weekly Disney television show. In 1961, Six Flags Over Texas opened, followed by several other Six Flags parks across the nation, successfully establishing themselves as regional, not national, destination parks.
Walt Disney World, which opened in 1971, is still the largest theme park ever built. The park turned into a multi-attraction complex with the (self-styled) “visionary” EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) Center, recalling the corporate advertising of a world’s fair, in 1982. Subsequent additions to the complex include the world’s biggest water park, interconnecting but still self-contained getaways for grownups, and one more amazing innovation. Taking as a model Universal Studios Hollywood, where studio tours added a new profit center to an existing movie/tv production facility, Disney and MGM created Disney/MGM Studios, a combined theme-park/studio. It was a stroke of show business genius! Florida’s motion picture industry was already well known as the home of low-budget productions, drive-in movies and the like. Some producers, like Ivan Tors of Flipper fame, had made national entertainment careers based in Florida instead of Hollywood. The area had an established craft, technical and talent base, and was a right-to-work haven for producers looking to make shows on budgets uninflated by Hollywood and New York craft unions. The result: two big-money businesses for the price of one!Less than the price of one, if you figure in the development perks and tax breaks local governments often offer to those who bring thousands of jobs to any community.
Parks of all sorts have felt one overwhelming pressure that affects all businesses and all traditions: the public’s easy boredom and demand for change. Some have successfully given the people what they want, others have not tried, or have tried and failed to find an innovation that intrigues the public.
“Things aren’t the way they used to be,” one old-timer has been heard to say; “and, you know what? They never were the way they used to be.”
If Steeplechase and Luna and Dreamland seem to us like wonders that should never have been allowed to fade, recall the plea on the marquee of a run-down pre-renewal Times Square porn theater: “It’s new until you’ve seen it.”
Large theme parks continue to innovate, with bigger (or at least different) shows, newer rides, wilder roller coasters, and ever-higher prices, even though some are operating on a scale not much bigger than the average former local park. Many older, smaller amusement parks, like Pennsylvania’s Kennywood, still find new and different ways to entertain, their charms only enhanced by their modest, comfortable size and careful preservation as reminders of bygone days.
History Section Index
1 – Early Fairs & Carnivals 2 – Expositions 3 – Freak Shows & Museums
4 – Circuses 4a – Circus Acts 4b – Clowns
5a – Wild West Shows 5b – Medicine Shows
6 – Carnivals 7 – Amusement & Theme Parks 8 – Vaudeville
|Design a Roller CoasterTry your hand at designing your own roller coaster. You will be building a conceptual coaster using the physics concepts that are used to design real coasters. You won’t need to compute any formulas.|
You will decide the following – the height of the first hill, the shape of the first hill, the exit path, the height of the second hill, and the loop.
When you’re done, your coaster will need to pass an inspection for both safety and fun.
Here we go!
First you need to determine theheight of the first hill. Start building your coaster by clicking on the “Begin” button.
Note: We’ll assume that your coaster is a single-car coaster running on a frictionless track. It has a mass of 800 kg (1760 lbs). The acceleration due to gravity is 32 ft/s/s. Back to Roller Coaster“Amusement Park Physics” is inspired by programs from The Mechanical Universe…and Beyond.
History of Amusement & Theme Parks
Amusement park is the more generic term for a collection of amusement rides and other entertainment attractions assembled for the purpose of entertaining a fairly large group of people. An amusement park is more elaborate than a simple city park or playground, as an amusement park is meant to cater to adults, teenagers, and small children.
An amusement park may be permanent or temporary, usually periodic, such as a few days or weeks per year. The temporary (often annual) amusement park with mobile rides etc. is called a funfair or carnival.
The original amusement parks were the historical precursors to the modern theme parks as well as the more traditional midway arcades and rides at county and state fairs (in the United States). Today, amusement parks have largely been replaced by theme parks, and the two terms are often used interchangeably.
For a remarkable example of a European park, dating from 1843 and still existing, see Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen. Even older is the Oktoberfest which is not only a beer festival but also provides a lot of amusement park features, dating back to 1810, when the first event was held in Munich, Germany.
History of American amusement parks
The first American amusement park, in the modern sense, was at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago, Illinois. The 1893 World’s fair was the first to have a Ferris wheel and an arcade midway, as well as various concessions. This conglomeration of attractions was the template used for amusement parks for the next half-century, including those known as trolley parks.
In 1897, Steeplechase Park, the first of three significant amusement parks opened at Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York. Often, it is Steeplechase Park that comes to mind when one generically thinks of the heyday of Coney Island. Steeplechase Park was a huge success and by the late 1910s, there were hundreds of amusement parks in operation around the world. The introduction of the world-famous Cyclone roller coaster at Steeplechase Park in 1927 marked the beginning of the roller coaster as one of the most popular attractions for amusement parks as well as the later modern theme parks of today.
During the peak of the “golden age” of amusement parks from roughly the turn of the 20th century through the late 1920s, Coney Island at one point had three distinct amusement parks: Steeplechase Park, Luna Park (opened in 1903), and Dreamland (opened in 1904). However, the Great Depression of the 1930s and World War II during the 1940s saw the decline of the amusement park industry. Furthermore, fire was a constant threat in those days, as much of the construction within the amusement parks of the era was wooden. In 1911, Dreamland was the first Coney Island amusement park to completely burn down; in 1944, Luna Park also burned to the ground.
By the 1950s, factors such as urban decay, crime, and even desegregation led to changing patterns in how people chose to spend their free time. Many of the older, traditional amusement parks had closed or burned to the ground. Many would be taken out by the wrecking ball to make way for suburban development. In 1964, Steeplechase Park, once the king of all amusement parks, closed down for the last time.
In 1955, Disneyland in Anaheim, California revived the amusement industry with its themed lands and matching attractions instead of using the older formula with traditional rides in one area and a midway, concessions, and sideshow attractions in another. The idea of theme parks caught on and, by the 1980s, became a billion dollar-a-year industry in the United States and around the world.
Original clip of scene in truck stop diner with a very young Jack Nicholson. It just doesn’t get any better than this. A woosieproductions edit is attached to end of clip.One of the most famous scenes in film history.
“FIVE EASY PIECES” SIDE ORDER OF TOAST
TRAILER FROM “DINER” 1982
THE BUDD LAKE DINER,BUDD LAKE N.J.
I HAVE BEEN TO MANY DINERS IN MY TRAVELS BUT MY FAVORITE OF ALL IS THE
BUDD LAKE DINER,IN BUDD LAKE N.J.
I arrived in America when I just turned 18. I came here to start a new life and get married to my American boyfriend. We lived in New York for seven years, and I never went to a diner. We started a family and moved to rural New Jersey. On weekends we would take the kids to the diner. I was smitten! The Budd Lake diner became our favorite. Eating the Gyro was on the top of my list, following close behind was their Clam Chowder and Corn muffins. When the kids were in school and my husband at work I would take my notebook and pen, slid into my favorite booth order coffee and sit for hours daydreaming and writing poetry.
I was divorced 24 years later and remarried to my poetry publisher. When we went on our many poetry reading gigs on the road we explored diners across the country, we had the best time of our lives driving the cities and small towns of this wonderful country. Many of my “road” poems were inspired by our travels. Many diners were explored, but few equaled the BUDD LAKE DINER!
Gutman leaps out of the booth—he’s compact and spry, surprising in someone who’s spent decades not just talking about diners, but eating in them—to count the number of seats in the Modern (52). Weighing the classic diner conundrum—“should I have breakfast or lunch?” he asks the grease-and-coffee-scented air—he boldly orders one of the more exotic daily specials, a fresh fruit and mascarpone crepe, garnished with a purple orchid. Before taking the first bite, like saying grace, he snaps a photograph of the dish to add to the collection of more than 14,000 diner-related images archived on his computer. He tells me that his own kitchen, at the house in Boston where he’s lived with his family for 30 years, is designed diner-style, with an authentic marble countertop, three stools and a menu board all salvaged from a 1940s Michigan diner, along with a 1930s neon “LUNCH” sign purchased from a local antique store. “Nobody has a kitchen like this,” Gutman half-confesses, half-boasts over the midday clatter of dishes and silverware. “Nobody.”
We finish our breakfast/lunch—I highly recommend the Modern’s raisin challah French toast with a side of crispy bacon—and head to Johnson & Wales University’s Culinary Arts Museum in Providence, where Gutman has been the director and curator since 2005. The museum hosts more than 300,000 items, a library of 60,000 volumes and a 25,000-square-foot gallery, featuring a reconstructed 1800s stagecoach tavern, a country fair display, a chronology of the stove, memorabilia from White House dinners and more. But it’s the 4,000-square-foot exhibit, “Diners: Still Cookin’ in the 21st Century,” that is Gutman’s labor of love. Indeed, 250 items come from his own personal collection—archival photographs of streamlined stainless steel diners and the visionaries who designed them, their handwritten notes and floor plans, classic heavy white mugs from the Depression-era Hotel Diner in Worcester, Massachusetts, 77-year-old lunch wagon wheels, a 1946 cashier’s booth. “It’s just one slice of the food service business that we interpret here,” Gutman likes to say, but the diner exhibit is clearly the museum’s highlight.
This is fitting, since the history of the diner began, after all, right here in Providence—with a horse-drawn wagon, a menu and, as they say, a dream. In 1872, an enterprising man named Walter Scott introduced the first “night lunch wagon.” Coming out at dusk, the lunch wagons would pick up business after restaurants closed, serving workers on the late shift, newspapermen, theatergoers, anyone out and about after dark and hungry for an inexpensive hot meal. A fellow would get his food from the wagon’s window and eat sitting on the curb. Gaining popularity, the lunch wagons evolved into “rolling restaurants,” with a few seats added within, first by Samuel Jones in 1887. Folks soon started referring to them as “lunch cars,” which then became the more genteel-sounding “dining cars,” which was then, around 1924, shortened to the moniker “diner.”
One distinction between a diner and a coffee shop is that the former is traditionally factory-built and transported to its location, rather than constructed on-site. The first stationary lunch car, circa 1913, was made by Jerry O’Mahony, founder of one of the first of a dozen factories in New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts that manufactured and shipped all the diners in the United States. At their peak in the 1950s, there were 6,000 across the country, as far-flung as Lakewood, Colorado and San Diego, though the highest concentration remained in the Northeast; today, there are only about 2,000, with New Jersey holding the title for most “diner-supplied” state, at 600-plus. New ones are still made occasionally, though, by the three remaining factories, and old ones are painstakingly restored by people like Gutman, who has worked on some 80 diners and currently has a couple of projects going, like the Owl Diner in Lowell, Massachusetts, in the alley (on the side).
While Gutman is diplomatically reluctant to identify his favorite diner, one of his mainstays is Casey’s of Natick, Massachusetts, the country’s oldest operating diner. “They’ve supported five generations of a family on ten stools,” he says, gesturing to a photograph of the 10-by-20 ½ -half-foot, all oak-interior dining car, constructed as a horse-drawn lunch wagon in 1922, and bought secondhand five years later by Fred Casey and moved from Framingham to its current location four miles away. In the 1980s, when Gutman’s daughter Lucy was little, no sooner had they pulled up to the counter at Casey’s but Fred’s great-grandson Patrick would automatically slide a package of chocolate chip cookies down to Lucy, pour her a chocolate milk, and get her grilled cheese sandwich going on the grill. “If you go to a diner, yes, it’s a quick experience,” Gutman explains “But it’s not an anonymous experience.”
That intangible, yet distinctive sense of community captures what Gutman calls the ordinary person’s story. “Without ordinary people, how would the world run? Politicians have to go to diners to connect. What’s the word on the street? In diners, you get people from all walks of life, a real cross-section.” And while any menu around the country can be counted on for staples like ham and eggs and meatloaf—and, back in the day, pickled tongue and asparagus on toast—a region’s local flavor is also represented by its diners’ cuisine: scrod in New England, crab cakes in Maryland, grits down South.
The changing times are reflected on the diner menu, too: the Washington, D.C. chain Silver Diner introduced “heart-healthy” items in 1989 and recently announced that it would supply its kitchens with locally grown foods; the Capitol Diner, serving the working-class residents of Lynn, Massachusetts, since 1928, added quesadillas to its menu five years ago; today there are all-vegetarian diners and restored early 20th-century diners that serve exclusively Thai food.
If the essential diner ethos is maintained in the midst of such innovations, Gutman approves. But, purist that he is, he’ll gladly call out changes that don’t pass muster. Diners with kitsch, games, gumball machines or other “junk” frustrate him. “You don’t need that kind of stuff in a diner! You don’t go there to be transported into an arcade! You go there to be served some food, and to eat.”
And there you have the simplest definition of what, exactly, this iconic American eatery is. “It’s a friendly place, usually mom-and-pop with a sole proprietor, that serves basic, home-cooked, fresh food, for good value,” Gutman explains. “In my old age, I’ve become less of a diner snob”—itself a seeming contradiction in terms—“which, I think, is probably a good thing.”
Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/a-life-devoted-to-the-american-diner-472278/#USef6V5otEpPimIO.99
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THE HISTORY OF TIMES SQUARE
Humanity Not at its Best, or Worst – but
at its Most
Times Square is the intersection of spectators and performers, tourists and locals; all the diversity of the city, the country, and the world interacting. Times Square accommodates many activities both planned and spontaneous, and connects streetscapes, underground passages, and penthouses. Finally there are the layers of history that lie under the streets and behind the facades of theaters, diners and stores. The density and the congestion are part of what is authentic to a place where art, life and commerce quite literally collide.
Much of what constitutes modern American culture has been invented and reinvented, tested, and displayed in the few blocks that make up the Times Square district. This is where Americans devise new ways to entertain themselves. By 1928, some 264 shows were produced in 76 theaters in Times Square. These theaters showcased not old-world opera, but the new popular culture born of America’s immigrant stew – vaudeville and musicals, jazz and the movies. Today it remains the busiest theater district in the world, and is also home to MTV, ABC, B.B. Kings, Hard Rock Cafe, Best Buy Theater, and Madame Tussaud’s.
The most popular spectacles of Times Square have always been free – the dazzling electrical signs that gave Broadway its reputation as “The Great White Way.” Over the course of the past hundred years, Times Square has become an outdoor laboratory for new ways to communicate and advertise.
Times Square is also where American news was made. It was here that writers like Walter Winchell and Damon Runyon perfected their punchy reporting style, the gossip column, and the use of slang, that redefined what news was – how it was to be written and reported, and what counted. Now ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Reuters, Viacom, Condé Naste, and of course the New York Times are all here.
Prostitution and sex theaters defined the area for much of the post-World War II era. In a larger sense, Times Square was a place where boundaries could be pushed, and broken, and desire expressed. It is no accident that, in Times Square, women could challenge the rules of dating, and gays and lesbians could find a greater level of freedom than they found elsewhere in the city.
Times Square blossomed in the first third of the twentieth century, only to slide into notorious decay in the face of the post-1945 world of television, suburbs, and racial strife. Times Square has returned in the past two decades. The crowds that first made the place have also returned, contributing to the unique mix of creativity and commerce, energy and edge that makes Times Square both an international icon and a universe in miniature, reflecting the obsessions, desires and priorities of a changing world.
Paul McCartney Pops Up in Times Square
The star plays four songs from his ‘New’ album at unannounced New York performance
PAUL MCCARTNEY PLAYES IN TIMES SQUARE
| October 10, 2013
Just 24 hours after playing a surprise show at a Queens high school auditorium, Paul McCartney gave another impromptu performance in New York’s Times Square today, delighting tourists and Midtown workers with four songs from his upcoming album New (due out next week).
McCartney alerted his fans around noon with a tweet: “Wow! Really excited to be playing New York Times Square at 1pm this afternoon!” By 12:45, a sizeable crowd had already gathered at Broadway and West 46th Street, where a large truck was parked blocking pedestrian traffic. Many of them were there to see McCartney, but more than a few could be heard asking what, exactly, was about to happen.
A few minutes after 1:00 p.m., McCartney and his band pulled up in a caravan of yellow taxicabs. The star emerged to huge cheers and climbed up into the truck – where a curtain had by now been pulled away to reveal a bare-bones stage, set up with instruments. “OK, we’re just going to do a few songs from my new album,” McCartney said as he took a seat at his multicolored piano. “Ready?”
A sea of cameras, phones and iPads followed McCartney as he began to sing the album’s lead single, “New,” smiling bright enough to make everyone forget the gray afternoon weather. “Well, this is something, isn’t it?” he said when it was done. “Let’s stay here all day!”
McCartney switched to his Hofner bass for “Save Us,” a fast-paced number that recalled Wings at their most rocking. Album promotion is a chore for some artists, but not for McCartney, who looked like there was nowhere else he’d rather be. “I’ll be putting a little hat out here later,” he joked. “We’re basically busking.”
His wife, Nancy Shevell, could be seen off to the side of the crowd dancing to the next song, “Everybody Out There” – a jangly anthem with McCartney on acoustic guitar. “There but for the grace of God go you / and I,” he sang. “Do some good before we say goodbye . . .” By song’s end, he’d broken into his trademark Little Richard howl.
“We’ve just been told we’ve only got one more,” McCartney said. “We’ve only got 15 minutes!” The crowd booed heartily, but he was in a goodnatured mood. “Mr. Andy Warhol predicted I’d get 15 minutes of fame,” he added with a grin. “This is it.”
With that, he returned to his piano and launched into one last song from the new LP: “Queenie Eye,” a psychedelic pub singalong. The song featured a sly wink to Beatles superfans: At one point, McCartney sang, “O-U-T spells ‘out’!” – just like on “Christmas Time (Is Here Again),” a fan-club exclusive recorded by the Beatles in 1967 and first released to the wider public as the B-side to 1994’s “Free As a Bird.”
And then, alas, it was time to go. “See you next time!” McCartney said brightly as he vanished back into the Manhattan crowd.
HOW TIMES SQUARE WORKS
When we stepped out onto the roof, the wind whipped me sideways, and it took me a second to get my bearings. I was nine stories above Times Square, staring at the back of its biggest LED sign, and it was thrilling.
Of course, standing on a dirty rooftop shouting over the cacophony of Midtown Manhattan is not thrilling in and of itself. I was with an engineer from D3 LED, one of the leading digital display manufacturers in the world, who was explaining to me how the sign worked. Gizmodo’s photo savant Michael Hession was wandering around, shutter snapping, and I was staring down into the guts of the 100-foot-wide LED display. As the engineer explained how the modular LED panels could be swapped out in seconds and the entire display switched with just a few key strokes, I straightened up.
“So you’re saying it’s just one big huge computer?” I asked.
He thought for a second and then nodded, “Pretty much.”
This is the back of the largest continuous surface LED display in Times Square. The blinking green lights mean that everything is working!
New York City’s Biggest Gadget
Times Square is one big, busy machine. Powered by American ingenuity and more than a few megawatts of electricity, these six square blocks stay bright 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You’ve seen Times Square in movies and on TV a million times. A lot of you have probably seen it in real life, teeming with chaos and glowing with capitalism. But how exactly does all that work? The shops and restaurants are one thing, but what exactly makes Times Square such a functional, perpetual spectacle?
That’s a complicated question. Obviously there are the workers themselves. Times Square supports some 385,000 jobs, a little over half of which are in that bright sliver of Midtown, while the other half are strewn across the country supporting Times Square operations from designing the content on the signs to keeping the power plants that power them on line. All together, they help generate about 11 percent of New York City’s economic output, or about $110 billion annually, according to the latest figures. These are the men and women who man the ticket booths, who sell the T-shirts, who clean the hotel rooms, and who keep everyone safe. And since about 350,000 pedestrians pass through Times Square on an average day—that number jumps to 460,000 on the busiest days—that’s no small task.
We actually got to climb inside the sign that sits on top of the Double Tree hotel. It was as precarious and scary as it looks.
But then there’s the technology. Times Square is home to countless billboards, many of which are now digital, that make up some of the most expensive advertising real estate in the world. These signs are so central to the area’s identity that there’s actually a zoning code that requires all buildings on that stretch of Broadway to have at least one illuminated sign of a certain size. And while the buildings themselves aren’t too different than those found throughout the rest of Manhattan, Times Square does have that big ball.
Put simply, Times Square works thanks to a productive marriage of labor and technology. And what better manifestation of these two things than those countless billboards that turn night into day in the middle of Manhattan? They bring in tourists. They drive up real estate prices. They fuel innovation in media and advertising in a manner unlike any other place on Earth. Put simply: Times Square works as long as those signs are shining.
It Wasn’t Always Like This
Times Square was still considered countryside when John Jacob Astor started buying up real estate in the first half of the 19th century. By the beginning of the 20th century, the area—then known as Longacre Square—had been considerably built up, having become home to The New York Times as well as a subway stop (in that order). On April 9, 1904, the paper announced the new moniker with a bold headline: “Times Square Is the Name of City’s New Centre.” Three years later, in 1907, Times owner Adoph S. Ochs lowered an illuminated ball down a pole on the roof of One Times Square in the last minute of the year, a tradition that endures today. It was, arguably, the first electrified advertisement in Times Square.
A few decades later, Times Square had become the center of New York’s sin city. The theater district that had made the area an entertainment hub was eclipsed by the seedy strips of sex shops and adult cinemas. This, along with an ever-growing crime problem, is part of why the Timescalled the area around its former home “the ‘worst’ in town” by 1960. The slide into seediness continued through the 1970s and 1980s, eventually slowing with the election of Rudy Giuliani and an aggressive push to boost security and encourage tourists. That eventually meant those porn theaters had to close.
“Seedy” is almost too gentle a word to describe Times Square in the 1980s.
Times Square was properly “Disneyfied” by the mid-1990s. While it’s widely believed that aggressive urban planning caused the rebirth of Times Square, the former head of New York’s Urban Development Corporation says that’s not quite right. “The changes in Times Square occurred despite government, not because of it,” wrote William J. Stern a few years ago. “Times Square succeeded for reasons that had little to do with our building and condemnation schemes and everything to do with government policy that allowed the market to do its work, the way development occurs every day nationwide.”
What better beacon of progress than a bunch of blinking—and eventually glowing—billboards. By the 2000s, Times Square had been transformed into a sort of shrine to capitalism, with mansion-sized signs beaming down onto pedestrian walkways that steered out-of-towners into chain stores and scared locals into staying downtown.
Times Square is safer than it’s ever been, safe enough to slurp a bowl of gumbo at Bubba Gump Shrimp well past midnight and then stroll onto brightly lit sidewalks without fear of getting mugged. Businesses are clearly thriving, and even the empty pedestrian walkways turn a tiny profit. It wasn’t just real estate developers, or extra security, or even Guy Fieri that transformed Times Square into the well oiled machine it is today. It was the millions of LEDs.
How LEDs Killed the Billboard
The thing about the signs in Times Square is that they never stay the same. Like the rest of America, the place is constantly reinventing itself through various innovations and a perpetual quest to grow bigger and become greater. So in the late 1990s, as LED technology was finally becoming affordable, Times Square became a testing ground for a revolutionary approach to display advertising.
D3 LED managing partner Meric Adriansen was one of the mad scientists in charge. Actually, he’s an engineer who was working in Disney’s fabled research arm before he got recruited to help design a new kind of sign for ABC in 1998. The network was preparing to move the fledgling Good Morning America franchise from Lincoln Center for Times Square, and it wanted a bright, splashy sign to announce the show’s presence to every passerby. The vision was to create a ribbon of sorts that wrapped around the corner of the the new Times Square Studios at the corner of West 44th Street and Broadway, where they could broadcast breaking news and the like. It was not an easy place to put an interactive display, especially with the state of technology at the time.
While the ribbon-like bands of LEDs panels looks like an obvious hardware challenge, writing the software that keeps everything in sync was the really difficult part.
Meric found a way to make it work. The challenge wasn’t so much getting the displays to curve. That was the easy part. The hard part was keeping the image on the screen in sync as it traveled across an uneven surface at various speeds.
The solution was smarter software. Using a series of morphing algorithms, Meric managed to program the display to move at varying speeds, so slightly out of sync that it looked completely in sync to the people on the sidewalk. The effect was spectacular, and Meric quickly realized that everybody in Times Square would want to one-up ABC with their own dancing LED creations. So he went into business.
Turning Times Square Into a Video Show
When you walk into Times Square today, there are no fewer than 55 giant-sized LED displays blinking and begging you to look at them. (It’s hard to keep count because new ones are going up all the time; D3 alone operates 27 of them at present.) That’s just a fraction of the 230-odd total billboards sprinkled throughout the Square.
The most prominent sign is certainly the skyscraper-high Walgreens display that D3 recently installed on both sides of One Times Square.Developers figured out that they could make more money selling advertising real estate on the outside than maintaining an office building inside, so they kicked out all the tenants and started basically minting money. That’s right. The former home of The New York Times is now just one big billboard, with companies like Toshiba, Sony, and Budweiser on display. Now the bright beacon of industry looks less like a sliver of Gilded Age grandeur, as it did when it was built in 1903, and more like the set ofBladerunner. In total, there are a staggering 17,000-square-feet of signage on the skinny old building.
On the left is the (still pretty new) One Times Square building in 1919. On the right is the (now completely empty) One Times Square building in 2012 as seen from the same vantage point.
The Walgreens sign is clearly a source of pride for D3, and it should be. It’s very impressive! When I first met Meric on an unusually cold early spring day earlier this year, he pulled out all of the plans to show me how all of the display’s 12 million LEDs were arranged so that the sign looked uniform to tourists passing by on the sidewalk, who remain the primary demographic for Times Square display advertising. He explained that the LEDs were denser on the bottom for higher resolution and spread out a bit towards the top. I still can’t see the difference.
“Content is king,” Meric kept saying. The signs, he explained, only looked as good as the images you displayed on them. And much to my surprise, they were just basic video files, run off of hard drives that were stored in any of D3’s facilities sprinkled throughout Times Square in buildings where the company either owns real estate or operates signs.
It’s hard to tell from photographs just how towering the Walgreens sign at One Times Square is, but it is. The diagonal slash is 30-stories tall, in fact.
Like Lego for Lights
At this point, you’re probably wondering exactly how these LED creations work. The answer is actually very simple. Each large LED display is actually an array of smaller LED displays that are connected to each other both physically and virtually.
The Walgreens sign is D3’s largest installation, with 29 separate displays that are lit with 16 miles of electrical cables and held together with half a million nuts and bolts. But the images themselves start out as regular old Adobe After Effects files that are then rendered into video. Clients need to supply D3 with just a single video file to get their dynamic ads in front of the 100-million-odd pedestrians who pass through the square annually. Well, that and a ton of money. An NYU study last year found that it costs a stunning $368,291,070 a year in water, electricity and green house gas emissions to run Times Square.
D3’s modular sign at the Quicksilver store in Times Square is one of the more creative uses of the LED module technology, with multiple displays forming a mosaic of moving images.
While the Walgreens sign looks impossibly vivid compared to its neighbors, it will fade over time, just like its painted and vinyl ancestors. LED technology is certainly much better than it used to be, but it’s still not invincible. An individual LED works by sending electricity through a semiconductor, or diode, but over time, heat causes the wires to degrade and the light to fade. The signs in Times Square, Meric told me—which stay on 24 hours a day, seven days a week—typically have a lifespan of about 10 years.
As the D3 technician told me, the LED displays are effectively giant computers. In fact, each of the individual modules is equipped with its own processor that coordinates with the rest of the modules to create one huge seamless image. The whole thing is internet-connected, too, so it can be controlled remotely. Meric told me that he gets push notifications on his phone if a sign has a problem, and no matter where he is in the world, he can troubleshoot on the fly.
The LED modules come in several different sizes and resolutions. The pixels on modules for outdoor signs are spaced between 10 and 24 millimeters apart, while they’re usually six millimeters apart on indoor displays.
The modules also each have their own MAC address, which makes it easy for technicians to identify exactly where the problems are. This is a big improvement over the old incandescent signs that required daily checks to see if any bulbs had burnt out. While Times Square was certainly impressive back when it was coated in incandescent light, the introduction of LED technology not only transformed the types of content that could be displayed, it made maintenance so easier which encouraged more people to build the futuristic-looking displays. Dynamic billboards used to be a thing of science fiction. Now it’s the de facto standard, thanks to LEDs.
Of course, no technology is perfect. Errors don’t happen often, but when they do, fixing them is sort of a cinch. As if they were big electronic Lego bricks, the broken modules can simply be swapped out for functional ones, and they’re good to go.
The modules (pictured from behind here) are completely, well, modular and can be swapped out in a matter of seconds.
The software that runs the whole system is also smart enough to route around problems whenever possible so that the whole sign doesn’t go down like a string of Christmas lights with a bad bulb. Meanwhile, the video files are all stored on hard drives in control rooms around Times Square, and D3 keeps backups on hand. While each sign has its own controller and control system, many of them have dedicated real estate where the hardware can live. In total, D3 operates 35 separate control rooms in Times Square.
All of the control panels and server towers are custom built for D3. On the right, above, you can see the hard drives displaying previews of the live content.
Obviously, security is an issue when you’re running several dozen giant, internet-connected displays in one of the most conspicuous places on Earth. “It’s a sobering thought that you’re always vulnerable,” Meric said. “If there’s anything that keeps me up at night, it’s the security aspect.”
As such, D3 follows very rigorous protocol to ensure that the whole system doesn’t get hacked. That includes routing signals through VPNs and running intrusion detection systems at all times. And if someone wanted to physically break into one of the control rooms, they’d have a damned hard time finding them. When I visited, we walked through the bowels of some pretty nondescript buildings, ducking under pipes and climbing over ventilation ducts to find a tiny unmarked door with a bunch of servers inside. It felt like a game of hide-and-seek.
The Spectacle of Darkness
It’s not until you gaze at the backside of the largest LED display in Times Square that you can finally get a sense of perspective. First of all, these things are huge. That particular sign spans over 100 feet and weighs a whopping 82,000 pounds. It’s filled with five million LEDs that produce a resolution thats four times denser than standard definition.
While LED signs are a relatively new addition to Times Square, they’re becoming more and more popular. They’re also getting better. While the resolution of existing signs is good, the technology is starting to get great. Some of the latest D3 creations almost look like high definition displays from afar, despite the fact that the individual pixels are spaced a few millimeters apart.
An up-close look at the modules reveals how much black space is between each pixel, but you can’t even tell when looking at the displays from the ground.
As smart companies tend to do, D3 is constantly looking ahead and trying to predict the next big innovation. Believe it or not, they think it’s 3D displays. The technology isn’t quite there to support glasses-free 3D images that passers by would enjoy, but Meric and friends built the this particular LED sign with 3D in mind, though they don’t currently display any 3D content. This basically means that they’ve built in enough resolution and back end support that 3D could be possible with the right content. It’s outfitted with 16 state-of-the-art SSD hard drives and enough processing power to handle 5 gigabytes per second of data. (3D video requires a lot of data.) The sign is also capable of playing video at 120 frames per second, so it looks smooth as can be. Oh, and it can handle live video, too.
All of this inevitably requires a lot of electricity. New York’s main utility company, ConEd, estimates that it takes at least 161 Megawatts at any given time to keep Times Square and the surrounding theater district glowing. A large chunk of that power goes to the signs themselves. That’s enough juice to light 161,000 American homes, and twice the amount of electricity required to power all of the casinos in Las Vegas.
While the Earth Hour event makes the majority of the signs in Times Square go dark, there’s always a light on somewhere in New York City.
You almost never see Times Square go dark, and when it does, it’s quite a spectacle. It’s also a great way to make a statement about our bad energy habits. Earlier this year, (most of) the square went dark from 8:30pm to 9:30pm in observance of Earth Hour, organized by the World Wildlife Fund to raise awareness about energy use and conservation. One Times Square has participated in the protest (of sorts) for five years now, and Jamestown, the company that manages the building, has vowed to reduceits carbon footprint by 20 percent before 2020. Others have made similar efforts, and one of the signs in Times Square is even powered completely by solar panels.
The Crossroads of the World
Times Square is obviously a busy place, and again, it’s an impossibly complex piece of technology in its own right. But before bright lights and the stores and the stupid naked cowboy, it was a gathering spot, not just for Americans but for people from all over the world. That’s why people call it the Crossroads of the World.
Some call this bombastic little spot, America’s Town Square. There’s even stadium seating.
While the signs don’t tell the whole story, they exist as living proof that Times Square is evolving machine, always on and always adapting to whatever the future brings. Companies like D3 make up a multimillion dollar industry that revolves simply around these ever-changing displays, a business so curiously impactful that some tourists come to New York City just to see the signs.
Perhaps most profoundly, however, is the fact that the signs stand as tribute to the unabashed glory that is American ingenuity. A hundred years ago, Times Square was just a little piece of real estate halfway into the relative countryside that was Uptown back then. A visionary newspaper owner, careful urban planning, even more careful urban renewal efforts, millions of visitors, and of course, some pretty awesome signs have now helped Times Square become one of the most iconic places on Earth.
And if you really think about it, without all those signs, Times Square would be just another messy Manhattan intersection.
Top image by Jim Cooke, photo via stockelements / Shutterstock.com
Photos by Michael Hession / Wikipedia / AP
A Haight-Ashbury Museum of Psychedelic Art and History is in development in San Francisco, but former Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen has beaten them to the idea. In June, Kaukonen will officially open the Psylodelic Museum, a collection of Haight-connected artifacts, at his Fur Peace Ranch in southeast Ohio.
“It’s a window of the time,” Kaukonen says. “To use a mixed-metaphor song title, it’s about the way we were.”
Housed in an old silo on the grounds of the ranch (hence the punny name), the museum currently includes donations from Kaukonen and longtime San Francisco-related friends. From his own personal collection, Kaukonen contributed concert posters from the Fillmore and Winterland (featuring Love, Muddy Waters and Moby Grape) as well as a rug from the famed Jefferson Airplane house. His old friend Wavy Gravy donated the sleeping bag he used at Woodstock. Jack Casady, Kaukonen’s former Airplane bandmate and ongoing partner in Hot Tuna, donated a custom-made tunic he wore at Woodstock and some of his old eyeglasses.
“You look at this stuff and think, ‘What were we thinking?'” Kaukonen says with a chuckle. “Jack had some of these unbelievably large glasses – like Elton John’s but without the jewelry.”
Casady credits his late wife, Diana, who recently passed away from cancer, with helping him salvage his vintage wardrobe. “I would say to her, ‘I’ll just rid of these clothes,’ and she would say, ‘No, we’ll find a place for them,'” he says. “So years ago I had them all dry-cleaned and hung and stuck in a closet. The clothes went along with the whole scene back then. It wasn’t about your image. It was just a hoot getting involved in designing your own clothes and guitar straps.”
In a sign of how far the musicians pushed the fashion envelope at the time, Casady remembers once trying to wear an outfit made from furniture upholstery: “The material was fantastic, but it was too hot to play in, so it was almost unusable.”
Although the posters and milieu bring to mind the heyday of the Airplane and theGrateful Dead, Kaukonen says tie-dye will be in short supply at the museum (which has so far raised just over $25,000 on Kickstarter); “A lot of people think of hippies as tie-dyed, but my memory of what I consider to be hippies is the people who dressed in Edwardian clothes or things from the American West,” he says. In that vein, Kaukonen donated some of the Native American-based jewelry he bought at the time, including a necklace that unintentionally resembled the Nazi symbol. “I wore it for a number of years,” he says. “Obviously, many people saw the Hakenkreuz [the Nazi party symbol], not the spiritual item I saw.”
Many items from the era didn’t survive those heady times. Kaukonen says his own patch-covered bell bottoms are long gone (“mercifully,” he says), as are Casady’s legendary headbands. The bassist’s own set of Fillmore concert posters also bit the dust. “When I shared a flat with Marty Balin in the Panhandle in San Francisco, I had every poster pinned to the wall,” Casady recalls. “So when it was time for me to get a house of my own, I just left them all on the wall. And there you have it.”
For future exhibits, Kaukonen is hoping to reach out to old musical friends like David Crosby and Paul Kantner, as well as Grace Slick, who retired from music years ago and now concentrates on painting. “She doesn’t do email,” he says, “so when I called her last year and got her answering machine, her outgoing message is her blowing a huge raspberry. Grace is still so funny.”
Founded in 1989, Fur Peace Ranch hosts guitar workshops and concerts (Steve Earlerecently played there), and Kaukonen admits that pulling in additional tourist revenue is another goal of the museum. “Even though we’re non-profit, we’re only non-profit by accident,” he says with another laugh. “My wife, Vanessa, thought we should have something of interest, like roadside America. All I know is that it’s going to be more interesting than the world’s largest ball of twine in Kansas.”
BEATNIK HIWAY – KALAMAZOO, MICHIGAN
AND TO SET THE MOOD “I’VE GOT A GAL IN KALAMAZOO” BY GLENN MILLER
The History of Kalamazoo MI
THE NAMING OF KALAMAZOO
“Kalamazoo” was originally a Native American name although its exact origin hasn’t been pinpointed. Some say it means “the mirage of reflecting river,” while others say it means bubbling or boiling water. Intrigued by the name, many poets, authors and songwriters have penned Kalamazoo into their works, the most notable of which may be Glenn Miller’s I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo. In the early 1900s, three ships were also christened Kalamazoo. Historically, the city has been referred to by many names. It’s been called “The Paper City,” for its many paper and cardboard mills; “The Celery City,” after the crop once grown in the muck fields north, south, and east of town; and “The Mall City,” after construction of the first outdoor pedestrian shopping mall in the United States in 1959. The fertile soil on which Kalamazoo is built has led the area to most recently be called the “Bedding Plant Capital of the World,” as the county is home to the largest bedding plant cooperative in the U.S. Hundreds of thousands of plants, many varieties of which are displayed throughout the county’s parks and boulevards, are sold each year to home gardeners and landscapers nationwide. Kalamazoo was once the manufacturing domain for Checker cabs, Gibson guitars, Kalamazoo stoves, Shakespeare fishing rods and reels, and the Roamer automobile. Parchment paper, made from vegetable byproducts, gave the city of Parchment in Kalamazoo County its name.
The earliest residents of the area were the “Moundbuilders,” an early race of Native Americans that subsisted on farming. A number of earthen mounds attributed to these people still exist in the area; the most prominent one can be found in downtown Kalamazoo’s Bronson Park. The park’s notable features include an Indian mound on its south side; a fountain designed by Alfonso Iannelli. “The Children May Safely Play” by Kirk Newman, in the west reflecting pool. The park lost many tall, old trees when it was ravaged by a 1980 killer tornado that swept through downtown Kalamazoo.(Video)
Experts feel that other Native Americans who later traveled down from the north probably exterminated the Moundbuilders. The earliest written records tell of the Sioux frequently occupying the region followed by the Mascoutin and the Miami. But by the time the white settlers arrived in the area that was to become Kalamazoo County, the land was occupied by the Potawatomi Tribe, a branch of the greaterAlgonquin people.
In 1680, the first white men journeyed through southern Michigan passing through Prairie Ronde and Climax. Traders occasionally did business in the county more than a century later in 1795. The Treaty of 1795 opened the Northwest Territory for settlement also setting aside a large portion of what was to be Kalamazoo County for a Reservation known as “Match-e-be-nash-e-wish.” This may have been the chief gathering place of the Pottawatomi Indians. The Treaty of 1821, known as the “Chicago Treaty” opened this plot of land to white settlers and became the basis for many of the county’s land titles. In 1827 the Indian reservation was consolidated in the southern end of Kalamazoo County and the northern part of St. Joseph County. Another treaty with the Native Americans in 1833 arranged the exchange of five million acres of their land for $40,000 in trinkets and trappings. The enforcement of the treaty in 1840 required the relocation of Kalamazoo’s Native Americans across the Mississippi River.
According to Dr. Willis Dunbar’s “Kalamazoo and How it Grew”, the first white resident of the area was probably a British fur trader named Burrell who in 1795 spent the winter at his trading post near what is now Riverside Cemetery. A Frenchman named Numaiville erected the first permanent trading post in 1823. Rix Robinson took over the post and operated it until 1837. The first white settler of the county was a man named Bazel Harrison, cousin of U.S. President William Henry Harrison. Harrison traveled to Kalamazoo County in late 1828 and built his home on the shores of a small lake 3 miles northwest of what is now Schoolcraft. (Harrison is said to be the person James Fennimore Cooper had in mind when he created the character Ben Boden in his famous novel, “The Oak Opening”). Other settlers followed quickly and by 1830 over 100 families had settled in the Prairie Ronde area. Within a year, all of the county’s eight prairies had been settled.
In 1829 Titus Bronson built the first cabin within the modern city limits on Arcadia Creek, west of the present Westnedge Avenue. A year later he replaced it with a permanent cabin on the present site of Bronson Park. The county itself was organized by an act of the territorial legislature and approved by the governor on July 3, 1830. The town of Bronson was officially designated the county seat on May 1, 1831. Five years later an influential group of men in town, dismayed by the apparent eccentricities of Titus Bronson, (he was accused, tried, and convicted of stealing a cherry tree) had the name of the town changed to “Kalamazoo.”
Lucius Lyon, a land speculator, who later became one of Michigan’s first U.S. Senators at statehood, founded the village of Schoolcraft. In 1830, John Vickers built the county’s first gristmill in the Prairie Ronde area. Within the same year he sold it and built another 20 miles away. The village that grew around the newest mill came to be called Vicksburg.
In 1800 the waterways and the Indian trails were the only routes a traveler in the county could follow. Settlers constructed the first primitive roads after 1830, the main one being the Territorial Road. This ran from Detroit to St. Joseph and bisected the county. The first plank roads were built around 1845 with the most important one stretching from Kalamazoo to Grand Rapids. Although these roads aided transportation, travel on them could be slow and sometimes treacherous. The railroads soon became a faster and safer means of transportation. The Michigan Central line first spanned the territory between Detroit and Kalamazoo in 1846 and its link to Chicago was completed in 1852. By 1905 at least six railroads connected Kalamazoo with the rest of the continent. By that time, however, the importance of the railways began to fade. The short-lived interurban systems were attracting short distance passengers and freight shippers.
In the first quarter of the twentieth century, the development of gasoline powered vehicles and hard-surfaced roads offered the residents of the county improved transportation possibilities. Presently two major roads in the county are Interstate 94 and U.S. 131, both of them limited access expressways. The county also has four airlines serving its needs.
Since the early days of white settlement, Kalamazoo County has always supported a strong farming economy. Industry has also been a strong force in the county’s economic development. As early as 1850 an iron furnace to smelt bog ore was founded in the county. After the Civil War, paper manufacturers began setting up shop in the Kalamazoo River Valley and in 1885, a physician from Hastings, Michigan, invented a pill making machine and developed the first readily dissolvable pill. William Erastus Upjohn moved to Kalamazoo to seek his business future and started the Upjohn Pill and Granule Company (later Pharmacia & Upjohn and now Pfizer), one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical firms, was founded. The many other new and diversified industries attracted more workers and families to Kalamazoo County.
For further information on the history of Kalamazoo County and its communities, the book “Kalamazoo and How it Grew” by Willis F. Dunbar, Western Michigan University, 1959, is very helpful.
Most of the county’s early white settlers were fur traders from England or New York. The remainder came from Pennsylvania and Maryland. After 1845 the number of foreign immigrants increased rapidly especially with the coming of the Hollanders in 1850. The growth rate of the county’s population reached its height between 1845 and 1860 when almost 8,000 newcomers settled here. That growth rate was not exceeded for 50 years when between 1904 and 1920 the population grew to 214,000, quite an increase over the 1860 figure. Increased immigration, better transportation, and the appearance of diversified industries all played a role in Kalamazoo County’s growth.
CULTURE & EDUCATION
As the size of Kalamazoo County grew, so did the variety of social and cultural activities. The Kalamazoo Gazette, the county’s earliest newspaper, is one of the state’s oldest. Many other papers were published here in the early years, including the Kalamazoo Telegraph (1844-1916).
The county’s educational facilities have always been a source of pride for residents. The first public high school was built in 1859 and in April 1833, the territorial governor signed legislation authorizing a charter for the Michigan and Huron Institute. Its first building was erected in 1836 on Cedar Street between Park and Westnedge and over the years, the Institute evolved into the well-respected Kalamazoo College. At present the county boasts four institutions of higher learning – Kalamazoo College, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo Valley Community College and Davenport University. Branches of other colleges are now also present in the Kalamazoo area.
The area’s cities, Kalamazoo and Marshall in particular have many areas designated as historic districts. Notable examples of Gothic, Italianate, Greek Revival, Sullivanesque, Queen Anne, Art Deco and other architectural styles accent their stately old avenues, providing a glimpse of restored grandeur from the previous century. Frank Lloyd Wright also found Kalamazoo quite right for his “Usonian”style of homes, built here during the late 1940s. Many of his designs are found in and around Kalamazoo.
Historic and Interesting places in or near Kalamazoo
- Kalamazoo Mall — the first outdoor pedestrian shopping mall in the United States was begun with the closing of Burdick Street to auto traffic in 1959. The four block long mall, stretching from Lovell Street on the South to Eleanor Street on the north, has been restyled to match the attributes of the Arcadia Commons development, where the new Kalamazoo Public Museum anchors the north end of the mall. In 1999, however, two blocks of the mall were modified to accommodate auto traffic after a period of political debates on the issue.
- Bronson Park — Kalamazoo’s traditional downtown centerpiece is Bronson Park, named for the community’s founder, Titus Bronson. The park’s notable features include
- an Indian mound on its south side believed to be a remnant of the mound-building Hopewell Indians, who lived in this area centuries ago,
- a fountain built with WPA funds designed and supervised by Alfonso Iannelli,
- and a sculpture “The Children May Safely Play” by Kirk Newman, in the west reflecting pool.
The park lost many tall, old trees when it was ravaged by a 1980 killer tornado that swept through downtown Kalamazoo. Abraham Lincoln made his only public speech in Michigan here; a historic marker honors the event.
- Kalamazoo Regional Psychiatric Hospital Water Tower — Off Oakland Drive north of Howard Street is the 175-foot tall landmark on the hilltop campus of the Kalamazoo Regional Psychiatric Hospital. The water tanks in the 1895 Queen Anne style tower are no longer in use.
- Stuart Avenue, South Street and Vine Historic Districts — Stately old houses line the grand streets of these neighborhoods, giving passerby a glimpse of restored grandeur from the previous century. The South Street district is west of South Westnedge Avenue; the Stuart Avenue district is in the area of the West Kalamazoo Avenue and Stuart Avenue intersection.
- Frank Lloyd Wright homes — Parkwyn Village, at Taliesin Drive and Parkwyn drive in southwest Kalamazoo, and the 11000 block of Hawthorne south of Galesburg. Designed as a cooperative neighborhood by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright in the late 1940s, Parkwyn Village contains examples of Wright;s Usonian style of home. More Wright homes are found in a rural setting south of the city of Galesburg.
- Kalamazoo City Hall — An acclaimed 1931 example of Art Deco style, City Hall at 241 W. South Street has a three story, skylit atrium. Visitors are welcome.
- Underground Railway Home — On Cass Street east of U.S. 131 in Schoolcraft. Built in 1835 by the county’s first doctor, Nathan Thomas, this house once was a link in the network of safe houses that hid former slaves. It’s open for tours by appointment only. Call the Schoolcraft Historical Society at (269) 679-4689 for more information.
DID YOU KNOW?
Did you know?
Kalamazoo County was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Dr. Nathan Thomas’ Underground Railroad House in Schoolcraft was in operation for twenty years. 1,000 to 1,500 escaping slaves were given food, shelter and medical aid.
10 Stereotypes About Kalamazoo That Are Completely Accurate
Seriously–it is. The day Bell’s Brewery releases Oberon is the biggest “party” day in Kalamazoo. How everyone celebrates ranges from people heading to Bell’s as soon as they open all the way to people grabbing a six pack and hanging out on their porch. To many, the annual release of Oberon means something more than just a new ale to drink–it means summer is almost here.
2. Kalamazooans Like To Get Weird
The Do-Dah Parade is an annual celebration and decades-old tradition full of wacky satire and spoofs. People here kick off summer in the best way possible–dressed in silly costumes parading through town. Have you ever gotten candy thrown at you by a zombie? I have.
Kalamazoo also likes to get eccentric once a year at Bell’s annual eccentric night, a celebration of your alter ego and an excuse to dress as ridiculously as you possibly can.
3. There Are A Bunch Of Liberal Hippy Farmers In Kalamazoo
From community gardens (they’ve got about 25) to the large focus on local, Kalamazoo is pretty liberal. The farmer’s market is the place to be on a Saturday and the food co-op was so well supported they were able to expand. While they may not be rocking tie-dye and flowers in their hair, the hippie spirit is alive and well.
4. All The Hipsters Are Members Of The Moped Army
Being a university town comes with what some may call a price–hipsters. While in Kalamazoo the hipster focus is a bit more centered on the local culture, hipster is as hipster does. And in Kalamazoo, some of those hipsters join the Moped Army. I mean, Kalamazoo is the birthplace of the Moped Army, which has grown to include branches throughout the U.S. Talk about being hip.
5. Kalamazooans Only Use Four Roads To Give Directions
Do you want directions? If you’re in Kalamazoo then you better know where Stadium Drive, Main Street, Westnedge, and Kalamazoo Avenue are. These are the four main roads that everyone and anyone there bases directions off of, that is, when they’re not using landmarks.
6. And They’re Serious About Late Night Donut Runs
To be a youth in Kalamazoo means you have participated in at least one late night donut run to Sweetwater’s Donuts on Stadium. A 24-hour donut shop, especially one as good as Sweetwater’s, is not something to take lightly. Rather, it’s something to take advantage of. One thing is for sure—a late night run is not necessary to appreciate Sweetwater’s.
7. Everyone Knows Someone In The Healthcare Industry
From Bronson to Borgess to Pfizer to contract agencies to Kalamazoo Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, it’s harder tonot know someone in the healthcare field in Kalamazoo.
8. Running Is A Profession Here
From the Kalamazoo Area Runners to the surplus of marathons and running events, it’s safe to say that Kalamazoo is full of dedicated runners. New running events are consistently added to the already packed roster, so there’s a bit of running fun for everyone.
Seriously–with events like the Run or Dye to the Kalamazoo Mud Run to the Borgess Marathon, you don’t have to be a champion to have fun on the run.
9. Artists Are Swarming Around Kalamazoo Like It’s A Hive Made Out Of Coffee Houses
From the much attended ArtHop on the first Friday of every month to the community theaters to concerts in the parks, Kalamazoo is full of all types of artists. In fact, almost everyone dabbles in art one way or another here. They may not be walking around in paint-stained clothing fulfilling the stereotype in a stereotypical way, but they will be at art-related events supporting their fellow artists and keeping the arts community strong.
10. Beer Is King In Kalamazoo
From Bell’s Brewery to the new Arcadia Ales, Kalamazoo is full of open and soon-to-open microbreweries. If there is one thing almost everyone in Kalamazoo can agree on, it’s having a good time. What helps fuel a good time? Good beer and good food.
GALLUP (Navajo: Naʼnízhoozhí) is a city in McKinley County, New Mexico, United States. The population was 21,678 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of McKinley County and the most populous city between Flagstaff, Arizona, and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Gallup, NM was also named as the winner in the Best of the Road Contest as the Most Patriotic Small Town in America for 2013–2014.
Gallup was founded in 1881 as a railhead for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. The city was named after David Gallup, a paymaster for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. During World War II, the city fought successfully to prevent 800 Japanese American residents from being placed in wartime internment. Gallup is known as the “Heart of Indian Country” because it is in the middle of many Native America reservations and home to many tribes.
Route 66 runs through Gallup, and the town’s name is mentioned in the lyrics to the song, “Route 66“. In 2003, the U.S. and New Mexico Departments of Transportation renumbered US Highway 666, the city’s other major highway, as Route 491; however, this change was unrelated to the fact that the number “666” is associated with Satan and Devil worship, and thus it was considered “cursed” or a “Beast” to some locals.
The historic El Rancho Hotel & Motel has hosted a numerous array of movie stars including John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, Humphrey Bogart, Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Joan Crawford, Kirk Douglas, Doris Day, Gregory Peck and Burt Lancaster. The rugged terrain surrounding Gallup was popular with Hollywood filmmakers during the 1940s and 1950s for the on-location shooting of Westerns. Actors and film crews would stay at the hotel during filming. Films made in Gallup included Billy the Kid (1930), Pursued (1947), The Sea of Grass (1947), Four Faces West (1948), Only the Valiant (1951), Ace in the Hole (1951), Escape from Fort Bravo (1953), A Distant Trumpet (1964) and The Hallelujah Trail (1965).
Gallup is sometimes called the “Indian Capital of the World”, for its location in the heart of Native American lands, and the presence of Navajo, Zuni, Hopi and other tribes. One-third of the city’s population has Native American roots. Gallup’s nickname references the huge impact of the Native American cultures found in and around Gallup. However, the city is criticized in the novel Ceremony, authored by the Native American writer Leslie Marmon Silko, for the city’s slums.
Gallup was the setting as the center of activity in a 2006 Sci Fi Channel mini-series The Lost Room, starring Peter Krause. Akon filmed a music video in Gallup in 2005. In 1994, parts of the movie Natural Born Killers were filmed in the city.
“(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66″, often rendered simply as “Route 66″, is a popular song and rhythm and blues standard, composed in 1946 by American songwriter Bobby Troup. It was first recorded in the same year by Nat King Cole, and was subsequently covered by many artists including Chuck Berry in 1961, The Rolling Stones in 1964, Depeche Mode in 1987, Pappo’s Blues in 1995, John Mayer in 2006, and Glenn Frey in 2012. The song’s lyrics follow the path of the U.S. Route 66 highway, which used to run a long distance across the U.S., going from Chicago, Illinois, to Los Angeles, California.
GALLUP (Navajo: Naʼnízhoozhí) is a city in McKinley County, New Mexico, United States. The population was 21,678 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of McKinley County and the most populous city between Flagstaff, Arizona, and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Gallup, NM was also named as the winner in the Best of the Road Contest as the Most Patriotic Small Town in America for 2013–2014.
Gallup was founded in 1881 as a railhead for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. The city was named after David Gallup, a paymaster for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. During World War II, the city fought successfully to prevent 800 Japanese American residents from being placed in wartime internment. Gallup is known as the “Heart of Indian Country” because it is in the middle of many Native American reservations and home to many tribes.
The Psychedelic ’60s: Literary Tradition and Social Change
THE SUMMER OF 1967, with its “Love-Ins,” “Be-ins,” and “Flower Power,” came to be known as “The Summer of Love,” and was one of the seminal moments of our generation. Over thirty years later, we who came of age during the turbulent decade of the sixties are dismayed to realize that, to the young adults of today, those years are now ancient history.
The “Psychedelic Sixties” broke the rules in every conceivable way from music to fashion (or lack of it), to manners and mores. Boundaries were challenged and crossed in literature and art; the government was confronted head-on for its policies in Vietnam; the cause of civil rights was embraced by the young; and mind-expanding drugs were doing just that.
Were the sixties the best of times or the worst of times? Did America evolve as a nation and we as individuals? Are we better for the experience? We who were there have our own answers, but it is the historians who will write the collective answers for posterity. In any case, for better or worse, this dynamic, controversial, exciting time was our youth, our creation, and our legacy, and this exhibition is an attempt to revisit it, share it, and interpret it.
This is the web version of “The Psychedelic ’60s: Literary Tradition and Social Change,” which was on view in the Tracy W. McGregor Room of Alderman Library April through September 1998. The exhibition was curated by George Riser, U.Va. Special Collections; exhibition text was written by George Riser and Stephen Railton, Professor of English, U.Va.