The Eiffel Tower Of Brooklyn: The Queens Connection

October 13, 2008 by
Filed under: Queens 

d made a very astute observation regarding this post:

I thought I recognized the parachute drop from Coney Island – it was in Queens for the World’s Fair and moved to Coney in the 40s. I absolutely love that thing, and on a recent jaunt to Coney (I go there pretty frequently), this old Brooklyn character sat down (with a beer in a paperbag, natch) at the table where my friend and I were sitting on the boardwalk and told us loads of stories, including that the parachute drop is called the “Eiffel Tower of Brooklyn.”

It’s true: Brooklyn’s “Eiffel Tower” is in fact sloppy seconds from Queens!

Per Wikipedia:

The ride was built in and towered over the fair’s “Amusement Zone”. The Life Savers company sponsored the ride, investing $15,000 and decorating the new tower with brightly lit candy-shaped rings. Eleven parachutes were used, leaving the tower with one empty arm. Adult riders paid 40 cents, children a quarter. The trip up took about a minute and the drop down was over in 10 or 20 seconds. The official 1939 Fair guidebook describes the ride:

Eleven gaily-colored parachutes operated from the top of a 250-foot tower, enable visitors to experience all the thrills of “bailing out” without the hazard or discomfort. Each parachute has a double seat suspended from it. When two passengers have taken their places beneath the ‘chute, a cable pulls it to the summit of the tower. An automatic release starts the drop, and the passengers float gently to the ground. Vertical guide wires prevent swaying, a metal ring keeps the ‘chute open at all times, and shock-absorbers eliminate the impact of the landing. One of the most spectacular features of the Amusement Area, this is also a type of parachute jump similar to that which the armies of the world use in early stages of training for actual parachute jumping.

At one point entangled cables left a Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius Rathborne aloft for five hours; the next day they returned to ride again, probably at the behest of publicists for the ride or the fair. Another couple, Arno Rudolphi and Ann Hayward, were married on the ride in a celebrated “parachute wedding”. The entire wedding party was suspended aloft until the newlyweds completed their vows and descended.*

Tilyou paid $150,000 for this parachute drop and it opened in 1941. At face value this would appear to be bad timing. It wasn’t: per this article from June 23, 1943 edition of the New York Times.

You can read the rest by clicking here. Otherwise here are a few pictures from Coney Island the month the previous article was written.

Father and son at Coney Island. Note the parachute drop at the far left!

From what I can tell about the lot of negatives of I have this chap was in the Navy During World War II. He looks glum about his future in this photo (and rightfully so). Coney Island’s future nowadays looks equally dismal.

Miss Heather

*Too bad it is inoperative now. Sounds like the perfect place for Levi Johnston’s shotgun wedding.

Photo Credit: Parachute Jump Postcards,


2 Comments on The Eiffel Tower Of Brooklyn: The Queens Connection

  1. ShatteredMonocle on Mon, 13th Oct 2008 10:29 am
  2. Word is that Marty Markowitz is working to get the ride back up and running. I believe he was responsible for getting the red lights added to it.

  3. d on Mon, 13th Oct 2008 11:25 am
  4. Thanks for all the info and more amazing old time photos! I hope they get the parachute drop operating again, I would totally want to get married hanging off that thing! I have an inordinate amount of photos of it too – the Flickr photos are just the tip of the iceberg. I lived in Bensonhurst/Bath Beach in 1999-2000 which is in spitting distance from Coney Island (and the Verrazano-Narrows which is one of my all time favorite bridges) and as much as I love Greenpoint/North Brooklyn, I am incredibly fond of the true geographical South Brooklyn area (Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Coney, Gravesend, Marine Park, Sheepshead Bay, etc) where most of my “native” friends are from (and they never talk about being “native”, they don’t care, unlike some of the people in the more trendy ‘hoods).

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