We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

The Pleasure Garden, from Vauxhall to Coney Island

Edited by Jonathan Conlin

Publication Year: 2012

Summers at the Vauxhall pleasure garden in London brought diverse entertainments to a diverse public. Picturesque walks and arbors offered a pastoral retreat from the city, while at the same time the garden's attractions indulged distinctly urban tastes for fashion, novelty, and sociability. High- and low-born alike were free to walk the paths; the proximity to strangers and the danger of dark walks were as thrilling to visitors as the fountains and fireworks. Vauxhall was the venue that made the careers of composers, inspired novelists, and showcased the work of artists. Scoundrels, sudden downpours, and extortionate ham prices notwithstanding, Vauxhall became a must-see destination for both Londoners and tourists. Before long, there were Vauxhalls across Britain and America, from York to New York, Norwich to New Orleans.

This edited volume provides the first book-length study of the attractions and interactions of the pleasure garden, from the opening of Vauxhall in the seventeenth century to the amusement parks of the early twentieth. Nine essays explore the mutual influences of human behavior and design: landscape, painting, sculpture, and even transient elements such as lighting and music tacitly informed visitors how to move within the space, what to wear, how to behave, and where they might transgress. The Pleasure Garden, from Vauxhall to Coney Island draws together the work of musicologists, art historians, and scholars of urban studies and landscape design to unfold a cultural history of pleasure gardens, from the entertainments they offered to the anxieties of social difference they provoked.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press

Series: Penn Studies in Landscape Architecture


pdf iconDownload PDF


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. iii-iii


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. iv-iv


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. v-vi

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 1-28

When London’s Vauxhall Gardens closed in July 1859 many felt that it represented the end of an era. Whether under the moniker ‘‘New Spring Gardens,’’ ‘‘Vauxhall Gardens,’’ or ‘‘Royal Vauxhall Gardens,’’ at its close the Lambeth resort could claim a history stretching back to the Restoration, almost two ...

read more

Chapter 1. Theaters of Hospitality: The Forms and Uses of Private Landscapes and Public Gardens

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 29-48

One of the central issues of eighteenth-century English garden history is how we might situate within our habitual narratives the phenomenon of Vauxhall Gardens (and indeed other so-called public pleasure grounds in London and the provinces). A cluster of more specific issues emerges in the process of answering the general ...

read more

Chapter 2. Pleasure Gardens and Urban Culture in the Long Eighteenth Century

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 49-77

For well-off visitors to London in the eighteenth century, a trip to one or preferably both of the great pleasure gardens of Vauxhall and Ranelagh was de rigueur. Dazzling and vibrant, particularly once illuminated at night, they were among the top tourist attractions of the capital; in 1772 M. Grosley thought ...

read more

Chapter 3. Guns in the Gardens: Peter Monamy’s Paintings for Vauxhall

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 78-99

The reopening of the Vauxhall pleasure gardens in 1732 under the proprietorship of Jonathan Tyers has been identified as a key moment in the development of the relationship between British visual culture and the public sphere. In an effort to deliver the gardens from their former reputation— the fictional ...

read more

Chapter 4. Performance Alfresco: Music-Making in London’s Pleasure Gardens

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 100-126

Pausing in Paris on a tour through France and Italy in 1770, the English music-historian Charles Burney noted his impressions on visiting a French version of a familiar haunt: I went to one of the Vaux Halls (they have 3 or 4 here) paid half a crown for ...

read more

Chapter 5. Pleasure Gardens of America: Anxieties of National Identity

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 127-149

Regularly described in very positive tones as ‘‘object[s] worthy at once of the notice of the connoisseur and the admiration of the community at large,’’ the pleasure gardens of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century America were a source of pride, touted as a symbol of cultural accomplishment.1 These sites ...

read more

Chapter 6. Pleasure Gardens in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans: ‘‘Useful for All Classes of Society’’

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 150-176

British-born architect Thomas Kelah Wharton (1814–62) came to New Orleans in 1853 as superintendent for the construction of the Customs House, and for nine years, during a golden age of urban growth and prosperity, he wrote about contemporary life in the antebellum community.1 On 2 May 1854, he described ...

read more

Chapter 7. Night and Day: Illusion and Carnivalesque at Vauxhall

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 177-194

Few literary evocations of Vauxhall Gardens fail to mention the presence or absence of light, and why should it be otherwise in accounts of a place visited almost exclusively at night? Fanny Burney’s 1778 heroine, Evelina, remarks on the ‘‘numerous lights’’ illuminating the scene at Vauxhall but ends by focusing ...

read more

Chapter 8. ‘‘Strange Beauty in the Night’’: Whistler’s Nocturnes of Cremorne Gardens

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 195-216

The American painter James McNeill Whistler’s series of nocturnal paintings, particularly the paintings of Cremorne Gardens, has gained historical significance as one of the key markers for early modernism, where the site—the spectacle at Cremorne—intersects with its avant-garde representation. As a ...

read more

Chapter 9. Edwardian Amusement Parks: The Pleasure Garden Reborn?

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 217-245

In early 1907, the Manchester Evening Chronicle made an intriguing announcement. Manchester’s Royal Botanical Gardens, opened in 1829 at Old Trafford, were undergoing a radical transformation. Under the direction of American businessman John Calvin Brown, the plant houses, fruit trees, flower ...


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 247-297

Select Bibliography

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 299-301

List of Contributors

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 303-305


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 307-314

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 315-316

The impetus for this volume was ‘‘Vauxhall Revisited,’’ a conference held at Tate Britain and the Garden Museum which brought scholars from a number of disciplines together with works of art and music associated with pleasure gardens. Thanks are due first and foremost, therefore, to the institutions ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780812207323
E-ISBN-10: 0812207327
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812244380
Print-ISBN-10: 0812244389

Page Count: 352
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Penn Studies in Landscape Architecture
Series Editor Byline: John Dixon Hunt, Series Editor See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 823710309
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Pleasure Garden, from Vauxhall to Coney Island

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Amusement parks -- England -- History.
  • Amusement parks -- United States -- History.
  • Resorts -- England -- History.
  • Resorts -- United States -- History.
  • Amusements -- England -- History.
  • Amusements -- United States -- History.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access