Located at far western end of Long Island, Brooklyn is one of the New York City's five boroughs and home to 2.3 million. From the 1840's into the early twentieth century, Brooklyn saw immense European immigration. The easing of U.S. immigration restrictions in 1965 brought an influx from the Caribbean, Latin America, and Asia, and by 1990, 2.3 million residents made Brooklyn the most heavily populated borough in New York City. "Coney Island is only another name for topsyturvydom" wrote U.S. art critic James Gibbons Huneker in 1915. By the turn of the century, this spilt of land at the southern tip of Brooklyn was already the most famous amusement center in the world, and it has never been equaled. "The place where the world was turned upside down, an odd combination of glamour and honky-tonk, drew gamblers and entrepreneurs, artisans and wax museum proprietors, old money and new immigrants"(Snyder-Grenier,167).
Coney Island developed as an amusement area about the same time that Brooklyn itself was rising as a major urban center. Surrounded on three sides by water, the site seemed a world away from the "smoky factories, commercial hustle and bustle of downtown Brooklyn" (Snyder-grenier, 167), but Coney was joined to the city and urban life in significant ways. People came from Brooklyn and Manhattan, whose populations surged with incoming immigrants. Transportation innovations like trolleys and subways, which played such an important role in Brooklyn's residential and industrial development, also brought crowds of visitors to the amusement area. .
Thompson and Dundy's Luna Park opened on May 16, 1903 to a crowd of 43,000 paying customers. The 22 acre park, on the site of the old Sea Lion Park, featured towers and spires lit at night by 122,000 electric lights. Attractions included A Trip to the Moon, a Dragon's Gorge (scenic railroad), Shoot-the-Chutes, Canals of Venice, Hagenbeck's Wild Animals, Miniature Railroad, Trip to the North Pole, Infant Incubators, Old Mill ride, Eskimo and German Villages, Chinese and Monkey Theaters and a Grand Ballroom.