Coney Island’s Parachute Jump

Man standing near Parachute Jump, 1949
Man standing near Parachute Jump, 1949

What’s 262 feet high, known as the “Eiffel Tower of Brooklyn”, and about to be so brightly lit up that it will be seen from space? If you’re from Brooklyn, then the answer came right away, but for those of you not blessed with that distinction, the photograph says it all. Built in 1939 for the New York World’s Fair in Queens, the Parachute Jump was relocated to Coney Island in 1941. I was 10 years old when this magnificent event occurred, and aside from the Cyclone, it was my favorite ride. My singular wish as an avid jumper was that the parachute would get stuck while I was on it and I could then swing from mid-air for hours with a view of the entire amusement park. This would’ve been heaven for me.

Alas, the Parachute Jump stopped operating in 1968 and became a city landmark. In 1980, it was inducted into the National Registry of Historic Places. Outgoing Borough President Marty Markowitz isn’t content with simply celebrating the national historic significance of the iconic landmark. Instead he hopes to make a more cosmic splash by outfitting it with 2$ million worth of programmable LED lights (8000 lights) that will throb rhythmically to music.

copyright Central Amusement International
copyright Central Amusement International

The New York Daily News reported that it will be able to be seen from space, and the Bensonhurst Bean issued this headline: “With New Parachute Jump Lights, Aliens Will Be Able to See Coney Island from Outer Space.” Given the superlative offerings available from Coney Island’s Sideshow by the Sea, this level of outreach to attract other-worldly interest seems unnecessary. However, Dick Zigun, the impresario behind the Sideshow is supporting the move saying: “Coney Island is not the place for subtlety. Marty’s right to want something flashier.”

Needless to say, the move is causing controversy, particularly among residents who are still waiting for Hurricane Sandy relief monies to trickle down to them. Can’t say I blame them! As for me, I understand it would cost a whole lot more to make the ride operable again, so I will just have to enjoy my memories of the original Parachute Jump, which brought me repeated thrills and the dream of being suspended for hours with a bird’s eye view of the greatest place on the planet. No bells and whistles needed.

4 comments

  1. Margaret Waage

    Love the story behind the photo post. Great idea, and lovely to look back on these times. I hope the area does rebound from Storm Sandy, because it is a special place… something about it, the people, the air, that seems makes life seem more alive there.

  2. bob salzman

    Hi Uncle,
    Beautiful photo. Reminds me of when you took me on the ride, the only ride in Coney Island that I am still deliciously fearful of.
    Bob Salzman

    • Harold Feinstein

      Dear nephew: The only thing I regret about the parachute jump is that I was never able to get stuck up there! If you see a Nathan’s hot dog anywhere eat it in my honor! Love to Kaethe!

  3. Shiela Martin

    I totally love all your work.

    I recently completed a novel that takes place in Coney Island. (Illustrated with my paintings.) I just shared this photograph with my Facebook page and was wondering if it would be okay to post it to the blog on my web page so I can talk about it? Is it okay to just copy and paste it? I just started it so there’s hardly any following.

    In any case, thanks for all the great work.

    sheilapmartin.com

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