After much delay, I return to this project. I have decided that since the next few states will encompass many great New Jersey parks as well as Coney Island, I am showcasing 12 cards instead of 10 for each installment, and omitting the sideshow performer section for now, though that will return later, perhaps as it’s own entity.
We pick up in New Hampshire, and it’s once and future main amusement park attraction, Canobie Lake Park. The coaster that can be seen in this aerial view, is the Yankee Cannonball, still going strong after 86 years. The coaster was built in 1930 for Lakewood Park in Waterbury Connecticut, and was relocated to Canobie Lake in 1936. It’s being re-tracked this off season, so 2016 should be a stellar year. The coaster makes an unusual dogleg around the still existing parking lot, though the rest of the park, the area between the parking lots and the lake, which was mostly trees in this 1960’s view, is far more developed now.
This next card shows that racial insensitivity wasn’t limited to states south of the Mason-Dixon line, with this card showing the Little Black Sambo merry go round in Story Land in Glen, NH. I’ve been to Story Land, and the place is family run, and by really nice folks. In their defense, Little Black Sambo was a popular story from when it was first published in 1899 until the 1960’s, when it’s racial undertones were impossible to ignore any further. Obviously, the ride is no longer in the park.
We enter New Jersey through Asbury Park. This nice 1960’s chrome view shows many rides and attractions, including the small roller coaster in the foreground, with three small kiddie rides behind it. The red roofed building houses the carousel, and the white building down from the carousel contained the Skooter rides, more popularly known now as Dodgems or bumper cars. The track in the water to the left of the card marked the area where you could rent self propelled swan boats.
The majority of the first installment will take place in Atlantic City. Firstly is a great view entitled “There Is a Boy for Every Girl, Atlantic City, NJ”. It was mailed in 1911, and it is a great example of the swimwear worn at the beach at the time. Notice that none of the women are showing any skin except for their heads and hands.
This next card show a sand sculptor working on a sculpture of a lion on the beach in front of George C. Tilyou’s Steeplechase Pier. Tilyou was also well known for his Steeplechase Park in Coney Island. This sign was also advertising The Funny Place, a funhouse. Note the Ferris Wheel in the back.
Next is a card from the 1930’s of the famous Elephant Hotel, Margate City, part of Atlantic City. Built in 1881 out of lumber covered in sheet metal, the elephant was used for many things, but not an actual hotel, that was in the building adjacent. It was moved in 1970, and still exists today, and is colloquially known as Lucy, which is the name given to her in 1902 by a member of the family that owned it.
This next card depicts a strange, generally no longer seen phenomenon, known as the Steel Pier diving horse show. These jockeys would go up the structure seen on the card, and then jump off of them into a pool. They were the most popular at the turn of the century, but began to lose popularity after World War II, due to concerns for the animals. Some of these attractions had the horses jumping close to sixty feet. This card was mailed in 1941, right when these shows were starting to die out almost everywhere.
But not apparently at The Steel Pier in Atlantic City, where this multi view card shows the Diving Horse, an assortment of rides, the popular rolling chairs ride, powered by this time, though human powered like a rickshaw, when first introduced in the 1800’s, and a billboard with ads for Zaberers, a restaurant, and Madame Tussaud’s wax museum. The publication date on this card is 1972, nearly the end of horse diving on the Steel Pier. The Steel Pier tried to re-introduce Diving Horses in 2012, but were quickly rebuffed by animal rights activists, and the general public, who’s taste for such spectacle has waned. The Magic Forest Theme Park in Lake George still has a diving horse, but he walks up the ramp, and dives nine feet into a pool 14 feet deep without a rider, or external encouragement.
These next three cards are my favorites from my Atlantic City collection. The first shows the Human Roulette Wheel, also known as a Joy Wheel in the UK. The person sitting on the absolute center of the device is the only one who is able to stay on the wheel as it starts to spin and gain speed. This shoots the people off the wheel, towards the rather ominous, and injury inducing short wall with metal fence, as well as previous riders. A sign in the center above the ride advertises ice cream cones for 5 cents.
Next is the Razzle Dazzle at The Funny Place, Steeplechase Park. This low tech ride used human power to get a large circular bench that people sat on, to rotate up, down and around a central pole. Oftentimes the folks who were providing the muscle would hang off the bench by their hands as it would go around. Click on the link below the picture to see a short 14 second video of one of these rides, known as The Hoop-La in Coney Island.
Our last Atlantic City card is this great overview of Steeplechase Pier, showing a coffee shop front left, a frankfurter restaurant front right, which also made fruit smoothies, apparently, and the rides behind the sign, including the carousel, Whip ride, and Dodgem or bumper cars ride, as well as another circular flat ride.
Our last card this installment comes from Clementon Lake Park in Clementon NJ, near Camden. I have ridden this wooden coaster, known as The Jack Rabbit. It was a fun ride, though the hand stamp the park gave you was so thick, you had to be careful what you touched!
Come back next time for another installment on New jersey, including the late, lamented Palisades Park.