NYC - Brooklyn - Coney Island: Cyclone
Athough it is not the longest standing, or necessarily the most impressive, the Coney Island Cyclone may just be the most famous roller coaster around. The track is 2,650 feet long (including 6 fan turns, 9 drops, 16 changes of direction, and 18 track crossovers) and 85 feet at its highest point; the first drop is nearly 60 degrees. Each of the three trains is made up of three 8-person cars, but only two trains can run simultaneously. Invented by Harry C, Baker, the ride's top speed is 68 mph and it takes about one minute and fifty seconds. The ride currently costs $6 with a $4 "reride" option.
After seeing the success of 1925's Thunderbolt and 1926's Tornado, Jack and Irving Rosenthal bought land at the intersection of Surf Avenue and West 10th Street where the ride the Great Coaster sat. When the Vernon Keenan designed Cyclone opened on June 26, 1927, at a final cost of the Cyclone reported between $146k and $175,000k, a single ride cost 25 cents (35 on Sundays).
According to legend, in 1948 a coal miner with aphonia who visited Coney Island. He had not spoken in years but screamed while going down the Cyclone's first drop and said "I feel sick" as his train returned to the station—then prompty fainted after realizing he had just spoken.
By the 1960s, attendance at Coney Island had dropped off. In 1965 (or 1971, reports disagree), the Cyclone was bought by the city of New York for one million dollars. Lack of riders hurt profits, and the ride was condemned; in 1972 it was nearly destroyed at the hands of a planned Coney Island aquarium expansion. A "Save the Cyclone" campaign ensued, and the coaster was leased to the Astroland park for $57,000 per year. Today, the ride is owned by Astroland, but the land it stands on is still owned by the Parks Department. Astroland's owners had the ride refurbished, and it reopened on July 3, 1975. In the 1980s, events like the Mermaid Parade and Sideshows by the Seashore brought visitors back to Coney Island and the Cyclone. Its 70th birthday was celebrated in 1997 with a tightrope walk by Tino Wallenda between the ride's two highest points; that year a single ride cost $4.
The Cyclone was designated a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1988.
National Historic Register #91000907 (1991)