Vintage footage of wild Coney Island carnival attractions

Originally published at: Vintage footage of wild Coney Island carnival attractions | Boing Boing


I saw Coney Island back in the early 60’s, it was still well taken care of, then I returned in the later 70’s, it was shitsville replete with every vice for anyone to see & purchase.


Fred and George and Gracie:


The film says 1952 at the end.

This was my dads place when he was growing up. Steeplechase too.

I got brought there by grandma in the early sixties with one of my brothers. Way too young for the big rides. But enjoyed the small bumper cars and wouldn’t bring the tiny boat back in when my time was over. Guy got kinda yelly. :grinning:


The good old days before proper safety precautions were taken!

The one that always impressed me were the overt trials of pain; probably made most obvious by the penny arcade ‘games’ which actually shocked you. (typically through the arms… just what one wouldn’t want to do for one’s heart (“Probably only goes up to 50V” hnnnn))

i guess there are still examples of paying just to impress your date with how much you can endure (“Was in a hot pepper eat’n contest once - won me an apron!”)


When was the film recorded?

The concensus is circa 1940, pre-war.

This got me wondering. Obviously some of these rides were dangerous and regulations regarding them sparse. How many people were maimed or killed annually at Coney Island during the 30s-50s? Was there public pressure to make the rides safer?

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One has to imagine the rides, being much much more dangerous and having no regulation, were causing injuries left and right. (How do those spinning disks not catch clothing fiber or hair, causing scalp avulsions or strangulations?)

People just tolerated risk, death, and accidents more then? Perhaps less publicity if an accident did occur? Suing just wasn’t a “thing”?

But it wasnt just amusement parks. Cars were death traps then. In 1937, they had about the same auto fatalities as 2020, but with 40% fewer people and 11% as many cars on the road.


So many white people…

1930s, I suspect, one of the “Pinheads” looks exactly as she did in Tod Browning’s “Freaks” from 1932…

Rocky Point in New England had a rotating disk setup after a long single person slide in their funhouse next to the parachute drop ride. Nothing as elaborate as Coney Island’s though.

They tore that rollercoaster down in the middle of the night in the early aughts, after sitting abandoned for years.

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