The Streets of Cairo in Coney Island from 1890s-1900s


Although many know this tune (there are surely hundreds of regional interpretations), few know of its origin and its importance to the New York City midway and sideshows of the early nineteenth century. Best known as “The Streets of Cairo,” it is oftentimes connected to visions of Arabia and Egypt, to snake charmers, belly dancers, and other mysterious notions of Near East mysticism.

Although not quite “a place in France,” there were certain locations in New York where the fabled song came to life. “The Streets of Cairo” sideshow was constructed on Surf Avenue, Coney Island, after the success of the Algerian Village at the World’s Columbian Exhibition in Chicago in 1893.


Show at Coney Island with a Man Levitating a Woman on Stage ca. 1908


Woman Gypsy Dancer Posing Outside at Coney Island ca. 1896


A Woman in a Carnival or Sideshow with Three Large Pythons ca. 1895


Beggar among the Crowd on Surf Avenue, Coney Island ca. 1896


Crowd Wandering Through the Streets of Cairo Show with Camels at Coney Island ca. 1896


Arabian Acrobats Demonstrating Acrobatic Feats Roof of Hammerstein's Victoria Theatre ca. 1908

The Operatic Adaptation of Oscar Wilde's Salome with Music by Richard Strauss, Metropolitan Opera House Jan 22, 1907


Crowd watching the Talker at the Streets of Cairo Show at Coney Island ca. 1896


Woman Gypsy Dancer Seated in her Sideshow Theatre at Coney Island ca. 1896


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