James V. Lafferty made a name for himself in 1882 by building an elephant-shaped building in New Jersey known as Lucy the Elephant. In 1885, he built a second elephant almost twice as tall as Lucy in Coney Island that became known as the Elephant Colossus. This building was 122 feet tall and contained a 31-room hotel as well as various shops in the lower levels. The interior rooms were named after the corresponding elephant organs, which was a novelty and probably aided in navigating the building. The building became a rather well-known brothel during its short life, and inspired the phrase “seeing the elephant” for a stop there. After standing empty for some time, in 1896 the elephant suffered the fate of so many Coney Island attractions and burned to the ground.
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