June 25, 2002

A Brooklyn Diamond

The Cyclone Turns 75 on Wednesday

[ from today's NY Times | New York Region ]

Scaring the Daylights Out of Riders for 75 Years

The wood-and-steel-frame Cyclone turns 75 tomorrow, and the Astroland Amusement Park will celebrate the occasion with a ceremony.

In 1927, the Cyclone's 1.6-mile coil was built where the first modern roller coaster, the Switchback Railway, had once stood.

Maintaining the aging attraction requires hundreds of hours each week from mechanics and carpenters like Irwin Joseph, who begins his day at 6 a.m., when the Boardwalk is so quiet that one can hear the ticking of the clock in the Cyclone's boarding area. He and several other men walk the track every morning to check that no screws fell from the track the day before.

"You have to make sure the screws are holding the joints tight," Mr. Joseph said, pointing to a screw he was about to replace. "If not, the tracks could fall out of alignment and you could have trouble."

Mr. Joseph has a favorite spot at the roller coaster. It is on a small bench tucked away on a triangle of grass that faces the coaster's 85-foot first drop. From there, he can see the faces of the riders as they crest the hill and head down, hitting the drop's nadir no more than eight feet away from the bench. "You can see right into what you call the `face of fear,' " Mr. Joseph said, smiling.

I've only ridden the Cyclone once when I was about ten. And it'll be my last ride! Let's just say it reminds me of the phrase: "Screaming like a b...." Thanks Aunt Dottie. grrr!

Bonus link: From Newsday, a regional newspaper, a gallery of Cyclone images.

Posted by ronn at June 25, 2002 07:50 PM