Amusement Parks!

Since 1661

Coney Island

The first attractions on Coney Island were racetracks built for wealthy vacationers in 1880. A collection of attractions suited to more moderate incomes followed. Amusement rides were popular. In 1884, Lamarcus Thompson built the first amusement railroad in the world, the Switchback Railroad. Its two wooden undulating tracks started ran down a 600-foot structure. It cost Thompson $1600 to build, but at 10¢ per ride, it took in $600-700 per day.


New York City had the money and the crowds: finances to build parks and a huge pool of working-class families looking for close and affordable relief from the grim realities of daily life. Coney Island, a five-mile stretch of beach at the entrance to New York Harbor where Brooklyn meets the sea, was already a popular seaside resort for the city and environs. A pleasant and largely undeveloped spot so close to a huge population in need of close and cheap recreation, it was destined to become home to a success


Local fairs and carnivals have been around since the Middle Ages, but modern amusement parks can trace their roots to the 19th century, when so called Pleasure Gardens, and Trolley Parks first, flourished in the United States and Europe. These early resorts featured primitive and often wildly unsafe roller coasters and rides, but they also included a variety of off beat attractions ranging from strongmen and wild animals to freak shows staged disaster spectacles and even battle reenactments. Take a trip through six of history’s most enchanting and influential Amusement Parks.
Coney Island of the 1940's