History of the Cyclone at Astroland Amusement Park
Though it is possible to visit historic sites and view demonstrations that bring history alive for the observer, there is still one National Landmark that allows you to experience the adventure felt by thousands over the last 80 years.
The dream of Jack and Irving Rosenthal was to build a roller coaster. With $100,000 to invest in their dream, they purchased land at Surf and West 10th Street in Brooklyn, New York and employed Vernon Keenan to design a coaster. Harry C. Baker supervised the construction and local companies supplied the materials. The project ran over budget somewhere between an extra $45,000 to $75,000. Not only did the pair build a roller coaster, but without realizing it, they built what is now a national treasure.
The birth of the cyclone
On opening day, June 26, 1927, The Cyclone was born. The ride, which at the time, cost 25 cents, bought the brave a trip that lasted approximately one minute and 50 seconds. In that short time span, the rider would travel 2,640 feet of track, climb 85 feet off the ground to plunge down a 65 degree angle at speeds up to 60 miles per hour. The course took the rider down 12 drops and around six 180 degree turns. Riders changed direction 16 times with the help of 18 track crossovers. There were also 27 elevation changes.
There is one miracle and one tragedy associated with the Cyclone. In 1948, it is said that a coal miner by the name of Emilio Franco, mute since birth, screamed his first words, “I feel sick” while experiencing the thrill of the Cyclone. Tragically, the death of 53 year old Keith Shirasawa, a musician, in July 2007 is also attributed to the ride. Mr. Shirasawa broke three vertebrae during the ride and later died from complications related to the surgery.
80 years of history
During the last 80 years, the Cyclone has undergone several management changes. It has ridden the wave of popularity and neglect within those eight decades. In 1971, the historic ride was purchased by the City of New York, and remains in its ownership today. The Cyclone was named a city landmark in 1988 and a National Historic Landmark in 1991. It is a fully functioning piece of America's history.
The price to ride is $8.00, and a camera snaps your picture as you start the 85 foot drop. So much has changed in 80 years, except The Cyclone. It continues to thrill riders, and cause some to pray as it plunges, turns and speeds its way into yet another decade.