Weird History

Premature Babies Used To Be Put On Display At Hospitals Like Sideshows

Dr. Martin Couney's Coney Island baby display was a sideshow attraction that ran from 1903 to 1943. Over the course of those 40 years, Couney and his nurses cared for approximately 8,000 prematurely born infants, saving their lives thanks to a newfangled medical technology – incubators. The incubator babies on Coney Island were displayed for paying visitors, and the funds raised went to their care. Though at first glance it may seem garish – after all, the babies were effectively treated as a "freak show" – this Miracle at Coney Island saved 6,500 babies, one of whom went on to live to be 96 years old.