On June 16, 1884, the first roller coaster in America opens at Coney Island, in Brooklyn, New York. Known as a switchback railway, it was the brainchild of LaMarcus Thompson, traveled approximately six miles per hour and cost a nickel to ride. The new entertainment was an instant success and by the turn of the century there were hundreds of roller coasters around the country.

Thompson's Switchback Railway, 1884.

Thompson’s Switchback Railway, 1884.

Roller coasters and amusement parks experienced a decline during the Great Depression and World War II, when Americans had less cash to spend on entertainment. Finally, in 1955, the opening of Disneyland in Anaheim, California, signaled the advent of the modern theme park and a rebirth of the roller coaster. Disneyland’s success sparked a wave of new parks and coasters. By the 1970s, parks were competing to create the most thrilling rides. In 2005, Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey, introduced the Kingda Ka roller coaster, the world’s tallest (at 456 feet) and fastest (at 128 mph).

Kingda Ka Roller Coaster, Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, New Jersey

Kingda Ka Roller Coaster, Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, New Jersey

By the mid-1960s, the major amusement parks at Coney Island had shut down and the area acquired a seedy image. Nevertheless, Coney Island remains a tourist attraction and home to the Cyclone, a wooden coaster that made its debut there in 1927.

Cyclone at Coney Island.

Cyclone at Coney Island.

Capable of speeds of 60 mph and with an 85-foot drop, the Cyclone is one of the country’s oldest coasters in operation today. Though a real-estate developer recently announced the building of a new $1.5 billion year-round resort at Coney Island that will include a 4,000-foot-long roller coaster, an indoor water park and a multi-level carousel, the Cyclone’s owners have said they plan to keep the historic coaster open for business.

As far as roller coaster go, no one could forget this iconic photograph of the roller coaster from Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, New Jersey after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.

The roller coaster from Casino Pier sits in the ocean in Seaside Heights New Jersey the day after Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast of the United States

The roller coaster from Casino Pier sits in the ocean in Seaside Heights New Jersey the day after Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast of the United States

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3 responses

  1. Miss Andi says:

    Another good one, sometimes you answer questions I didn’t know I had! Thank you!

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  2. Birgit says:

    I didn’t realize the coaster was that old. I am terrified of heights so I will never ever go on that Kinda Ka Roller Coaster. Is it really 90 degrees up and down? That is too frightening. I used to go to Crystal Beach every year but I never went on the Comet. My brother did and said it is one of the best to this day. I have to check out this Kinda Ka coaster on you tube now and be freaked just sitting here watching it

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