The Parachute Jump

“They hooked us in and my father put his arm around me to keep me from falling out…and we began the ascent. The sounds gradually faded away and all we could hear was the wind in the cable. When it hit the top the parachute exploded. It had shock absorbers on the bottom and when it hit the shock absorbers you would bounce and swing like a marionette. I wasn’t terrified at all. It was a dream come true.” Charles Denson

The ride concept was patented by James H. Strong and Stanley Switlik (http://www.google.com/patents?q=patent:2111303 ) and originally designed for use as an armed forces training structure.  The ride debuted on the plot of land where Six Flags Great Adventure exists now.  In 1937 Strong worked with Riverview Park in Chicago and converted their Eye-ful Tower” (observation tower) into the Pair-O-Chutes.

The Parachute Jump was bought by Edward Tilyou from the 1939 New York World’s Fair. The ride was run at the Lifesavers exhibit by the Safe Parachute Company from 1939-1940 and opened at Steeplechase for the 1941 season. It stood 262 feet at its tallest point and had twelve chutes, each with a seat that held two passengers.  The ride ran for the duration of Steeplechase’s existence, and then was run as an indepdent concession for aq few years.  Although tame by the standards of today’s rides, the experience of sitting 250 feet in the air on a small seat was unnerving. Just step on the modern-day versions built by Intamin, A.G. at Six Flags over Georgia, Six Flags over Texas and Six Flags Great Adventure (New Jersey).

The Parachute Jump at Steeplechase Park.

The Coney Island Chamber of Commerce and Gravesend Historical Society worked together to have the Parachute Jump was declared a Landmark on July 10, 1977.  This was rescinded, but after a lot of work the tower was put on the National Register of Historical Places in 1980, and designed a city landmark nine years later.   The tower, painted a deep red, is known by many as Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower.  In 2001 a rehabilitation project began, and over the following winter it was taken down, sandblasted, and repainted.