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Elephant-Shaped Buildings and Other Curiosities: NYPL's Map Librarian Talks…

By Matt Knutzen, Geospatial Librarian - The New York Public Library One hundred years ago, a building-sized elephant stood across the street from the Coney Island Cyclone. The "elephant bazaar,&
  • Maxime Longden

    The Colossal Elephant of Coney Island, 1885, James Lafferty

  • Marian Durkin

    Limn - verb: 1. To portray in words. 2. To draw or paint, especially in outline. A.Word.A.Day (January 10, 2011)

  • Corona

    The Coney Island Elephant was a hotel and brothel built in the shape of an elephant, and located on Coney Island. In 1885, the Elephant Hotel, also known as the Elephantine Colossus, was built by James V. Lafferty and was 122 feet high with seven floors and had 31 rooms. The hotel became associated with prostitution. This lead to the phrase “going to see the elephant” being created, to mean going to see a prostitute.

  • rebecca van laun

    The Elephantine Colossus, otherwise known the Elephant Colossus, or by its function as the Elephant Hotel, was a tourist attraction located on Coney Island that was built in the shape of an elephant. An example of novelty architecture, the seven-story tall structure designed by James V. Lafferty stood above Surf Avenue from 1885 until 1896, when it burnt down in a fire. During its lifespan, the thirty-one room building acted as a hotel, concert hall, and amusement bazaar.

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