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Posts Tagged ‘Dr. Martin Couney’

Amusement, Medical Innovation, and Transit Allied for Success

Amusement, Medical Innovation, and Transit Allied for Success

By Sue Hunter Weir The story of the Wonderland babies is as much of a crowd pleaser today as it was when Wonderland Park was in operation between 1905 and 1912. When Wonderland opened its gates in 1905, it was not just a big news story””it was a huge story. It wasn”'t just that having a modern amusement park was important to the city”'s image and sense of itself as the gateway to the Northwest, it was the effect that the park had on the city”'s infrastructure and economy. In 1905, for the first time, it became possible for Minneapolitans to take a streetcar from Hennepin and Lake to 31st Avenue and Lake without going through downtown. It was no coincidence that 31st and Lake marked the entrance to Wonderland Park. The following year, a newly constructed addition, the Selby-Lake streetcar line, provided easier access to the park for visitors from St. Paul. On busy days, streetcars ran as often as every thirty seconds to handle the crowds. In its first year of operation, over half-a-million people came to see the park. The thing that made it all possible””the streetcars, the rides, and the 120-foot beacon of light that could be seen for miles””was electricity. What few people realized at the time was the electricity was also capable of saving lives. At the far end of the park, stood the Infantorium, essentially a neo-natal intensive care hospital for premature babies. For the price of a ten-cent ticket, visitors could see the hospital”'s shiny, new incubators. Incubators, at least those used for raising poultry were not unknown, but the idea of using an incubator to raise a human baby came as something of a surprise to many of the fair”'s visitors. Many people were confused about how the baby incubators worked, and, drawing on their experience of watching eggs turn into chicks in “hatcheries,” thought that the babies were conceived and born in the incubators. The steel-framed boxes with their glass [...]

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