Fred Trump And The Destruction Of Steeplechase Park

Fred Trump And The Destruction Of Steeplechase Park

"You won't find the original amusement park rides and other attractions on Coney Island today."
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Years before Donald Trump was a constant face in the business and now political world, his father, Fred Trump decided he wanted to build apartment buildings on Coney Island. The the same Coney Island known for its amusement parks. Unfortunately, you won't find the original amusement park rides and other attractions on Coney Island today, and that's partially thanks to Fred Trump.

George C. Tilyou grew up in a family that ran and owned a restaurant on Coney Island. The responsibility of which was transferred to him when he was an adult. When thinking of how to improve his business, it must have been fate that Tilyou attended the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, and happened to see the first Ferris wheel (built by George Washington Gale Jr. to match the Eiffel Tower unveiled at the 1889 Paris World's Fair.) Upon seeing maybe one of the greatest feats of the late 1800's, Tilyou decided to build his own Ferris wheel. The wheel became extremely popular and lead to the construction of Steeplechase Park, the first (and last) of the three major Coney Island amusement parks.

While Steeplechase Park entertained people for years, all good things come to an end. In 1964, Tilyou's daughter, Marie Tilyou closed the amusement park in response to decreased profits and the destruction of the neighborhood. Not long after closing, Marie sold the park to Fred Trump.

Trump saw the area as not a place to entertain young and old alike, but as a place to create giant seaside towers of apartments. There was a problem though, the area wasn't zoned for residences. Naturally, Trump didn't take this and fought (and tried to cheat) his way into getting what he wanting. When he noticed this wasn't working, he decided to have a "amusement park funeral." Trump saw the problem in his way as the neighborhood's attachment to the amusement park. Like any rational person, he decided to destroy what people loved to get their support.

The "amusement park funeral" featured girls in bikinis and the chance to destroy the amusement park with stones and bricks. Once Trump was done trashing the 69 year old piece of history, he bulldozed it (except for certain rides and concessions). It was destroyed just in time, otherwise it would have gotten that ever-dreadful landmark status. Once again he resumed his attempts to get the area rezoned.

Ultimately, the local government decided not to let Fred Trump build his hotels and he decided to lease the land to ride operators. This was the start of one of those ride operators, Norman Kaufman's attempt to restore the park to its original glory. He worked at it until the 1980's but was never able to compare to the original Steeplechase Park. Kaufman was eventually evicted from the land by the city (Trump sold the property in 1969) and most of his additions were removed.

In the following years, a variety of things occupied the land (or were proposed to occupy the land). Today, the MCU Park, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones sits where Steeplechase Park once was. The only thing left that would tell anyone there was once an amusement park there is the defunct Parachute Jump, known to some as the "Eiffel Tower of Brooklyn."

Cover Image Credit: Dick Mooran - Flickr

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Clocking In: The 9 To 5 Feminist

Jane Fonda, #MeToo and Fashion
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She puts the finishing touches on her makeup, so they say she is in dress code. She buttons to the top of her blouse, so they don’t stare. She smiles and asks politely, so they won’t call her uptight. She doesn’t smile too much though, so they don’t think she’s flirting. She doesn’t question her salary, so they don’t report her. She doesn’t tell anyone what her creep of a boss did, so they don’t fire her. Just another day at the office.

She is not alone. The modern woman is forced to deal with workplace discrimination and sexual harassment in silence. Even her dress code, from the makeup on her face to the heels on her feet, is designed with a restrictive double standard.

Despite past efforts to combat such inequality, this has largely remained the status quo. However, 2017 marked a turning point in the fight for a workplace equality with the viral social media campaigns #MeToo and #TimesUp, which are aimed at combating sexual harassment and sexist double standards.

These campaigns amplify the forceful rallying cries of working women and shines light on the unspoken reality of their experiences in the workplace at the hands of men. These protests echo the feminist movement of the 1970s which was in part influenced by its representation in film, an iconic example of which is Jane Fonda’s trailblazing production of “9 to 5.”

Taking inspiration from her friend’s Boston organization of female workers “Nine to Five,” Fonda sought to bring to light the untold stories women in the office often experienced in a way that was palpable to the public: comedy. The 1980 office satire “9 to 5,” starring Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin and Fonda herself, addresses the wage gap, sexual harassment and blatant sexism through the lens of three women fed up with their villainous, misogynistic male boss.

In “9 to 5,” the boss subjects the feminist trio to different aspects of the same sexist narrative. He calls the new girl stupid and incapable. He demands his secretary to turn around and bend over for his viewing pleasure. He takes the credit of the only female office manager to further his standing with the company. The sexist dynamic between him and the trio is reflected in their attire and connects the events of the movie to the feminist movement as a whole.

Stereotyped as the weaker sex, the female employees of “9 to 5” adhere to a strict dress code characteristic of 1970s workplace apparel of below the knee skirts, silk ties, blouses adorned with bows, heels and a full face of makeup. The physical restrictiveness and beauty standards imposed on women by their male superiors shows the subtlety of sexist workplace culture.

Outside the office, women of the 1970s were embracing comfort and function in their casual fashion. Denim jeans, loose-fitting shirts and flat Oxford shoes reflected the growing movement of women to make their own choices and live as they please, free from the limitations of the patriarchy. Within the walls of the office, however, it was still very much a man’s world.

The requirement that women maintain feminine standards of beauty in the office ensures that the standard of acceptable clothing for working women is decided by the men. As a consequence, men use this double standard to solidify ideas that women are incapable of a man’s job and are not to be taken seriously. Sexist ideas like these supported the wage gap and kept women from advancing, despite having the qualifications to do so.

By the film’s end, however, “9 to 5” rejects this pervasive narrative that women’s capabilities are limited by their clothing. Following a series of bumbling mishaps, the trio find themselves in charge of the company and replace the sexist status quo with a progressive and equal workplace, fulfilling the goal of the feminist movement.

In showing the efficiency and progressiveness of a female-run workplace, the film shows that women are equally capable of a man’s job (and that they can do it better). “9 to 5” redefined working women as competent and equal to men, shedding the stereotypes of how they should dress and behave to appease the sexist status quo.

Considering the current political climate of social regression, despite changes in clothing and office technology, the dynamic between men and women in the office hasn’t changed much. Women still earn less than men. Men hold most positions of power. The goals of the current #MeToo and #TimesUp movements mirror the fanciful aspirations of “9 to 5.”

But what’s changed? What has made the contemporary feminist movements so much more powerful and influential than any before them? Deemed radical for its time, the progressive themes of equality and a workplace free of harassment are now contemporary feminist staples. The era of inclusion is fast approaching. Thanks to the current feminist revolt and the trailblazing of the past, men in positions of power are no longer able to use their influence as a shield to silence women or hide behind the public eye.

In a symbolic exchange of the unending struggle of the feminist movement at the 2017 Emmy Awards, Fonda reminds us that “back in 1980, in that movie, (Parton, Tomlin and I) refused to be controlled by a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot.” Tomlin reminds us of the challenges that lie ahead in the final push for equality. “And in 2017, we still refuse to be controlled by a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot.”

Cover Image Credit: Rob Young

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To The Students Walking Out On April 20th

Build the change. Push the change. Be the change.
Cali C.
Cali C.
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Dear students participating in the national walkout on April 20th,

On March 14th, you walked out of your schools for 17 minutes to remember the 17 innocent lives that were brutally taken at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. On March 24th, you marched in one of the 800+ marches around the world to demand long-overdue change and you stood up for those who cannot anymore due to gun violence.

You may have been ridiculed for what you did. You may have received ill-mannered remarks from your peers, and surprisingly (but not really, if we’re being honest here), adults. Some of your schools’ administrations even punished you for protesting peacefully. Some people said that what you were doing "won't change anything." The list of negative expressions towards the walkout and the march could go on and on, unfortunately.

However, all if not almost every historical national movement also faced criticism. But they kept going. And their voices were heard. And change happened.

On April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting, you will walk out again to remember the victims of that day (it’s daunting how many events correlate to that statement) and to tell the world that silence is no longer an option.

You will no longer go to school, a concert, the movies, the mall, church, anywhere and have the fear that you may not make it home that day. You will no longer live under laws that remain unchanged after far too many lives have been taken by something that should have been taken care of a long time ago.

You will no longer tolerate the cycle of “shooting...thoughts and prayers...debate...no change in anything...life goes back to normal.”

You’ve probably heard this everywhere these past two months, but do not stop after that day. Because this is so much more than just a walkout. This is so much more than just a march. This is so much more than the hashtag and the videos and photos you’re seeing on social media.

Educate yourself on issues that matter. Go to your town hall meetings. Get involved in your school, city, and state organizations. And most important of them all - register to vote. If you are too young to vote, that does not mean that your voice does not matter. Volunteer at the polls. Discuss current events in your community. Practice civic engagement. Whatever you do, do not stop contributing to this turning point in history.

You are the future. You are the leaders we need.

It's about damn time something is done to end gun violence, and it starts with you.

The world is going to be a better place because of you, and don’t you dare let anyone convince you otherwise.

Cover Image Credit: Instagram
Cali C.
Cali C.

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