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The little train robbery / Thomas A. Edison, Inc. 1905.

[Detail] The little train robbery / Thomas A. Edison, Inc. 1905

Historical Research Capabilities

The essays in this collection describing the history of the Edison Cylinder Phonograph and Edison Motion Pictures provide an opportunity to further investigate the origins of both inventions. The collection also affords the opportunity to examine early experimental films such as the Dickson Greeting (1891), the Dickson Experimental Sound Film (1894) that combined a kinetoscope and phonograph, and the Panorama of Esplanade by Night (1901), which is alleged to be the first film taken at night by incandescent light in the United States.

In addition to technological firsts, some films in this collection provide scenes of other historic firsts in the United States, including the first annual Automobile Parade (1899) in downtown Manhattan, President McKinley taking the Oath to become the first U.S. president of the twentieth century, and Coney Island's establishment as the first amusement park.

Coney Island was a popular recreation area in the late-nineteenth century. It featured three race tracks, the nation's first roller coaster in 1884, a Ferris Wheel a decade later, and the first enclosed amusement park in 1895. Subsequent attractions followed and Coney Island developed into an historic entertainment area. A search on the term, Coney Island, yields films from the park's first decade. Shooting the Chutes (1896) features the park's water slides, Racing at Sheepshead Bay (1897) presents one of the area's three racetracks, and Rube and Mandy at Coney Island, (1903) features the rides found in Steeplechase Park and Luna Park. (Luna Park was the creation of the duo of Frederic Thompson and Elmer Dundy who created the "Trip to the Moon" ride at the Pan-American Exposition of 1901.)