A giant elephant hotel-turned-brothel once called Coney Island home
Back in the day, on a less-than-desirable section of Surf Ave and West 12th St, stood a seven-story elephant-shaped building in all its gimmicky glory. (Just picture Nicole Kidman’s boudoir from Moulin Rouge.) Inside the Elephant Colossus, which was erected in 1885, was said to be a concert hall, museum, cigar store, and spiral staircases (the legs) leading up to rooms and telescopes (the eyes). Its designer, James Lafferty, even referred to it as the "Eighth Wonder of the World." But as the saying goes, nothing lasts forever, and what started as a 31-room hotel eventually ended up as a brothel brimming with prostitutes. The whole thing burned down in September 1896, but there’s no doubt it lived a legendary life while it lasted.