NYC - Brooklyn - Coney Island - The 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.
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. Its 80th birthday was celebrated on June 26, 2007 with a brass band, stilt walkers and Miss Cyclone; that year a single ride cost $6 (with a $4 re-ride option).
Astroland Park, opened in 1962 by the Dewey Albert, served as a neighborhood anchor for over 4 decades--surviving recessions, urban renewal, racial tensions and the crack epidemic. But it couldn't survive Thor Equities, who bought the property (but not the amusement park business) from the Albert family in November, 2006. In its place will be Coney Island Park, part of a planned year-round resort. The municipally owned Cyclone was not part of the Thor sale, and the Albert family will continue to operate it under its contract with the City. The a 3.1-acre park, adjacent to the Coney Island boardwalk owes its name to the the Cold War space race. A red, white, and blue rocket ship, rises above the rides with "ASTROLAND PARK" painted across its fuselage.
The Cyclone was designated a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1988.
National Historic Register #91000907 (1991)