Friday, October 28, 2011
Coney Island's Cyclone, the fastest of all New York City Landmarks
All though there were earlier experiment with gravity powered rides in 15th century Russia called "Russian Mountains" and built under the orders of Russia's very own Catherine the Great in the Gardens of Oranienbaum in Saint Petersburg, a primitive roller coaster opened in 1784. Some believe that the roller coaster was given to the world by the French. The Les Montagnes Russes à Belleville (The Russian Mountains of Belleville) constructed in Paris in 1812.
In 1827, a mining company in Pennsylvania constructed what became known as a "gravity railroad", an 8.7 mile downhill track used to deliver coal. By the 1850s, the "Gravity Road" (as it became known) was providing rides to thrill-seekers for the outrageous price of 50 cents a ride. Using this idea as a basis, LaMarcus Adna Thompson began work on a gravity powered "Switch Back Railway" that opened at Coney Island, New York in 1884. Riders had to climb to the top of a platform and rode a bench-like car down the 600 ft track up to the top of another tower where the vehicle was switched to a return track and the passengers took the return trip. This track design was soon replaced with an oval complete circuit. In 1885, another coaster pioneer Phillip Hinkle came along and introduced the closed-circuit coaster with a what is called in the industry a "lift Hill", called the Gravity Pleasure Road, which was soon the most popular attraction at Coney Island. Not to be outdone, in 1886 LaMarcus Adna Thompson patented his design of roller coaster that included dark tunnels with painted scenery. Called"Scenic Railways", these rides were to be found in amusement parks across the county from then on.