The Parachute Jump is a defunct amusement ride in Coney Island, whose iconic open-frame steel structure remains a Brooklyn landmark. Standing 250 feet tall and weighing 170 tons, it has been called the Eiffel Tower of Brooklyn. Well, I’ve never called it that, but apparently some people have.
If you Google “Photos of Coney Island” you will see that it is arguably the single most photographed landmark near the Boardwalk. Originally built for the 1939 New York World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, Queens, the tower was moved to its current site, then part of the Steeplechase Park amusement park, in 1941.
It is the only portion of Steeplechase Park still standing today. The ride ceased operations in 1964, when that park shut down for good. How old were you in 1964? I was 3.
The ride was based on functional parachutes which were held open by metal rings throughout the ascent and descent. Twelve cantilevered steel arms sprout from the top of the tower, each of which supported a parachute attached to a lift rope and a set of surrounding guide cables.
Riders were belted into a two-person canvas seat hanging below the closed chute, then hoisted to the top, where a release mechanism would drop them, the descent slowed only by the parachute. Shock absorbers at the bottom, consisting of pole-mounted springs, cushioned the landing. Each parachute required three cable operators, keeping labor expenses high.
The tower lights up at night, and colorful the patterns change constantly. It is quite mesmerizing to view.
We had fun. We always do.