Here is the abstract for my paper presentation at the upcoming 2008 Gulf South History & Humanities Conference in Galveston, Texas, in October:
Paper Title: Palmetto Beach: Pensacola’s Electric Park
Abstract: As the use of electricity swept across the American urban landscape at the turn of the twentieth century, many trolley companies established amusement parks – illuminated wonderlands powered by electricity – as getaways from the drudgery of urban life. Pensacola was no exception. The Pensacola Electric Company, which ran a trolley line from downtown Pensacola to nearby Fort Barrancas, established Electric Park at nearby Palmetto Beach in 1905, followed by Palmetto Beach Amusement Park in 1909. While each park proved popular with Pensacola residents, both ventures were short-lived. Drawing upon contemporary accounts and documents, this paper explores the story of Palmetto Beach’s amusement attractions within the broader socio-economic context of turn-of-the-century Pensacola as it transformed into a modern city. This work also seeks to locate the place of Palmetto Beach within the national amusement park trend. While relying heavily upon primary sources such as legal documents, newspaper reports, and other eyewitness accounts, this paper also engages current scholarly work on both turn-of-the-century Pensacola and the history of American amusement parks.