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June 26: The Cyclone

Lawrence Bush
June 26, 2010

CycloneThe Coney Island Cyclone took its first thrilling ride (for a 25¢ fare) on this date in 1927. Its construction was commissioned by brothers Jack and Irving Rosenthal (musicians, the two of them) for $146,000 on a site that had hosted the world’s very first roller coaster, the “Switchback Railway” and the world’s first looping roller coaster, “Loop the Loop.” In 1935, the Rosenthals bought Palisades Amusement Park (“swings all day and after dark,” as penned by Irving’s wife Gladys Shelley, a lyricist and composer) for $450,000 and built it into an attraction that brought more than four million visitors per summer. The Cyclone, meanwhile, was declared a New York City landmark in 1988 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 26, 1991. The ride takes a minute and fifty seconds; the first drop is at a 60 degree angle.

“I once started out to walk around the world but ended up in Brooklyn . . .”—Lawrence Ferlinghetti, “A Coney Island of the Mind”

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.