Comparative studies of the uses and changes of free time have been relatively rare in social history, especially in the 20th century. By reflecting on some of the ideas and findings generated by a new study that John Walton and Gary Cross conducted concerning the changes in the meanings and behaviors of playful crowds in the U.S. and Britain across the 20th century at Coney Island, Blackpool, Disneyland, and the Beamish Museum, this paper raises some of the possibilities and difficulties of doing a comparative social history of 20th century pleasure crowds. National and other differences will be considered in explaining why the Blackpool resort area survived much social change in the 20th century and Coney Island did not, as well as how Disneyland and the heritage site of Beamish reflected differing adaptations to middle class crowd and aesthetic sensibilities.


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pp. 631-650
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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