Coney Island Parachute Jump

Dear Mr. Coney Island...
When did the Coney Island Parachute Jump last operate?
- Coney Fan

Hello Coney Fan,

The Parachute Jump never operated after the closure of Steeplechase Park on September 19, 1964. The information in the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission Designation Report, claiming that the Jump operated until 1968, is inaccurate and is based on a newspaper article that the commission's researcher read about an accident at the site. The accident did not take place on the Parachute Jump. It occurred at a small go-kart track that circled the base of the abandoned Parachute Jump until 1971.

What's particularly amusing about the researcher's mistake is the media's embellishment of the years that the Parachute Jump supposedly operated after Steeplechase closed. Dramatic news stories have been spun about a declining Jump falling into disrepair, including detailed descriptions of the rickety ride finally being forced to close in 1968.

The commission's report also lists Norman Kaufman as the Parachute Jump's last operator. Kaufman, who operated an amusement fairground and parking lot on the Steeplechase site after the park was demolished, has always found this curious. "No, I never operated the Parachute," he said in 2003 when asked about the flawed report. "The historical consultant wrote that. She got it all wrong. The Garto brothers had a go-kart ride around the Parachute. I had nothing to do with that. I had nothing to do with the Boardwalk. The Garto brothers rented the base from Fred Trump and ran a go-kart ride."

Why is this information relevant? With restoration of the ride being proposed, it's important to get the facts straight. The Parachute Jump was an incredibly difficult ride to maintain and operate, and it had a perfect safety record. The commission's false image of the ride operating for several years with a ragtag crew implies that it could easily be restored and operated in its original form without much effort.

Although it's possible that the Parachute Jump could operate again, the ride's landmark designation would require it to be restored to its original form: a free fall with real chutes. The cost of restoration might prove to be prohibitively expensive, as the ride would require a highly trained and experienced crew to maintain it in the manner that the Tilyou family did until its closure in 1964. Besides the obvious insurance and liability concerns is another factor to consider: the Parachute Jump never made money for the Tilyous. Part of the reason can be traced to its location. Stiff ocean breezes kept it closed much of the time. Until these problems can be resolved, the landmarked Parachute Jump will continue in its role as a symbol of Coney Island survival and resurrection.


Rode it many times and would LOVE to do it again before I'm gone.. Besides I've requested of my family for some of my ashes to be spread as close to it as possible. I plan on doing the same with my parents on my next visit to NY. Hope you don't mind, we loved the place so.

When I was a kid I was crazy about the Jump. As soon as I met the required height, age etc. I would drag my father over to the Parachute Jump. He wasn't as crazy about it being a Seabee during the war and used to be planted on the ground or on the water. I couldn't wait to get on the thing. As my family got off the train, I was dragging my old man over to the Jump We always made a deal, only two rides a day. After time spent on the other rides we would wind up at Bay 17 and Scovilles. The last time on the Jump was the summer of 63'. After I got in the army not soon after it was time for the real thing.....P.T.

Hi, Just to add to the information on the "JUMP" at no time did
any ride circle around the base of this ride.

I rode those go karts around the base.

Hi Nick, You are so wrong. There was indeed as stated above a go-kart track. I lived in Coney almost all of my life until the end of 1997.

I moved to Coney Island in late 1959 and was fortunate to be old enough to enjoy SteepleChase, all 3 major
roller coasters, the wonder wheel, bob sled, virgina reel & many many more rides and attractions. The most
memorable, for me, will always be the first and only time I experienced the Parashute Jump. As it turned out
an older friend challenged (or dared) me to ride along with him. Thankfully I did but I must admit when it reached
the top and went into that momentary free fall I thought it was all over for me! I 've been to both Disneys and
most other modern amusement parks but none of them will ever compare to the magic of old Coney Island!

I also grew up in Coney Island from the early 1960' to the late 1970's and remember in the early 70's after the Parachute Jump was closed for a number of years, that they did in fact run a go-cart concession. I also remember my dad taking on the Parachute Jump in 1963.

My dad was a photographer for the World Telegram and spent just about every weekend at Coney Island during the season, usually with Milton Berger at Steeplechase Park. Luckily for us, he took my sister and I with him. I remember the first time he took me on the parachute jump, he had the operators send us back to the top over and over about 5 or 6 times without stopping!
Every year on the Sunday before Steeplechase opened he would take my sister and I and two of our friends to go on the new rides of the season for publicity photos. We had the whole park to ourselves!
Needless to say, every spring we were suddenly swarmed with new "best friends".
Does anyone remember the area at the exit to the steeplechase ride where you could watch the clowns chase people around and blow air up the ladies' dresses?

I remember it all too well. After you would get off the horses, you had to get past a couple of characters dressed as clowns and they had slapsticks that would try to avoid and also a clown who was a midget wielding a eletric wand that would give you a harmless zap. His name was Timmy and lived across the street from my family on 92nd street in Bay Ridge. There was a elephant & in the mahout box atop would control barrels that would shake, a floor that would drop down and handrails that wouldsink into the floor. There was seating like a small theatre where you could watch the antics on stage for the price of one ticket punch on your round admission ticket.

is the parachute going to open again?

I want the Paracute Ride to be put back in service ASAP.

Sometimes it seemed that the parachute jump was closed more often than it was working due to bad weather, high winds etc. There were never any accidents during the entire time the parachute jump was in operation, it did however require three cable operators per parachute. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, in 1977 it was recognized as a landmark by the City of New York so its existence as a structure should remain for many years.
There had been serious discusions of making the ride operable again but the structural changes that would be necesary to meet modern safety standards would probably not be possible, not to mention the high cost of operation.

I remember riding on the parachute jump with my father and hetting stuck at the top when parachute would not open and we were stuck up there for hrs cherry pickets did not go to top so we had to wait until a man or fireman climbed through the steel frame and somehow release the parachute mechanism to drop. Therefore bringing us Dow
N to safety

My grandfather George Siebert assigned to NY City Rescue Squad, it might have been you he climbed up for the rescue. I don't know how many times it got stuck. A long time ago I did see the newspaper article of the recuse.

My both parents spent lots of time with family & friends on Coney Island beach in the 1950-1960 I have old pic to prove it , I have pic of my mom & dad in front of the parachute ride she is on his shoulders you could tell just by watching the pic they had fun in those days ,, it's a beautiful thing to see something and to wish you could be there , I was born 1963 and by the time I grew up the ride was closed I've too spend time on Coney Island and always went bk to visit even living in another state when I come bk home to ny I always pass by , and go to Nathan's too , the best hot dogs . It's beautiful piece of history I'm so glad I have pic to show for it ,, my husband and I will be returning soon so I can takes pic of the ride and have lunch ,, thanks so much for this site

I dont know if this is the incident you experienced, but we were stuck for hours, i think 3 or 4 hours. No one was able to notify us as to what the problem was since there were no cell phones back then. I had found an article once but am not able to pull it up today. Fortunately, it was a nice day, and we were too young to be worried so we just waited until it finally began to run. We just got off and left, no one even had a word to say what happened.

I worked as an operator on the Parachute Jump for two seasons, 1961-62, when 16 and 17 yrs old. I was the youngest employee . One operator could handle the chute but it was tiring so usually two split the job. When it was windy the operators had to do test rides since the winds at the top could differ from the surface. Scary! Being the youngest guess who got stuck more often than not. Nutty bunch of guys. If I told you some of the things we did you wouldn't believe me.

A Huge Fan of the Old Coney island, and Yes, Coney Island was Nutty back in those days, You must have had a blast, Im wondering if you became a paratrooper. Those stories must be for the history books and yes, Id believe and Intrigued,

I rode the parachute jump in the summer of 1959. I would do it again tomorrow, even though I'm not 18 anymore.

A friend tells me that near its end, there was a mishap a week after he rode it with friends. He says one of the chutes broke away from the tower and floated down into the water by the beach below where the passengers had to be rescued. No one was hurt however. Any validity to this story??

It could never happen. There are multiple cables on each chute

As a kid with a younger brother living in Coney Island. Surf and Mermaid aces. We would stand there with our Dad. The ride was down a lot and the rumor"always" was "someone got killed on the ride" lol. We never got on it!! It was crazy how fast that chute would descend and people bouncing all over the place!! Good memories

I spent all my summers at Coney Island my grandfather owned the parking lot across the street from Steeplechase. Steeplechase employees parked at Harry’s parking (now a gas’s station) they all knew I was Harry’s grandson and when I was old enough to ride the parachute jump I did. It was the only ride on the island that scared the hell outta me every time I road it; I was terrified. Great ride that came from the 1939 worlds fair was disassembled and then reassembled by the boardwalk.

They were great times with the best memories real people not some bullshit Woody Allen portrayal....

Pedro Ortiz was drunk had a fight with my Mother. So, he claimed the PJ in Coney Island. He was on the news and in the newspaper it was so embarrassing.

When I was a kid growing up in Baldwin, LI, one of the "required" annual family outings was a trip to Coney Island. We usually spent most of the day in Steeplechase Park, where Mom and I especially loved the caterpiller ride. I got to ride the parachute jump just once with my father before it closed. When old enough, I could get there with friends for additional days, and got to ride all the coaster and famous rides from the 1939 Fair - Bobsled, Virginia Reel, Wonder Wheel. The closure of Steeplechase was a very sad day. It seemed that Coney Island was being turned over to fish and renters. I'm glad to see its revival.

I Rode the Parachute Jump as a child in the late '50s. I think of the time often. I visit Coney Island as often as I can and try to get to Coney Island just to see the old parachute jump. Memories!

I rode the parachute ride in 1939 as a three year old toddler with my older brothers. My recollection of that incident was imprinted in my brain because our chute got stuck at the top of the structure for a time that seemed like an eternity. I actually was looking for information on such malfunctions when I came across this site

But that’s not the end of the story. I lived in Brooklyn and went to Coney Island frequently, and at the age of 18 was a lifeguard on the beach. The real kicker was that I entered the army in the fall of that year (1954) and became a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne, and while on leave I returned to the parachute ride with a fellow paratrooper, in full uniform, and we both took the ride, drawing the attention of the crowd. Acting as cool as possible, we pulled off nonchalance like pros. The most interesting part of this story is that when I took that ride as a paratrooper, it was only my second time on the parachute ride.

I just came across this article and people's comments. I too got to "drop" on the PJ in the early 60's as a young child. I appreciate the stories share by everyone -- good times!

I must have been very lucky. At the end of 1963 and early 1964, I was home from Boot Camp leave and took one more trip to Coney Island. Growing up in the Bronx mom would take my brother and me to Coney Island regularly - got off the train at Stillwell Ave and walked to Bay 17. Never went to a single beach in the Bronx.

Anyway I was a Cyclone fan but as a freshly minted Marine I had a duty to take the plunge on the Parachute Jump. And, plunge it was. I didn't know what to expect, but the first second or 2 were definitely free-fall and I was sure my life over. But, as you know, the rest of the ride was fun.

I live in California now, but miss New York. However, most of my family has moved or passed. So, I have to be satisfied with memories and occasional visits to the the greatest city in the country.

I’m so happy to read these snippets. I, too as a child/teen went to Coney Island every chance I could. We lived in Levittown so it was a haul. I rode the PJ with my dad & lost a shoe during the drop! Terrifying & exhilarating all at the same time. My fave was cyclone. Great memories

I just visited the Parachute ride and was surprised and perplexed that such a landmark had absolutely no signage or information attached to the structure describing any of its history. It would be wonderful for some signage as well as photographs of the ride in action be displayed around that structure. Appeared so lone and barren by day, and only comes alive at night with the magnificent lighting effects.

The slow but sure death of the coney island I grew up in began with fred trump's purchase and closures of steeechase Park and the rko Tilyou movie thaether and the parachute ride!!!....After nyc refused to let trump build hotels and/or apartment complexes on the site of the former amusement park Donald Trump came personally with a slew of scamtily-clad females , and with a sledge hammer in his hands he began smashing away at the walls of the steeplechase park!!!!...a downright shame!!!!!...coney was never the same.. and sadly to say, never will be again.

Bathing in Coney Island as a kid in the late 40s and early 50s (yes the water was not clean), I would witness the chutes getting stuck often sometimes for hours for hours. I did ride it once in the 50s with my grammar school friends and fortunately it went well. The ride on the way up is filled with apprehension, but the release at the top took your breath away for about ten seconds. The rest of the ride was a smooth descent. I think the fare was 50 cents, 75?, but no more than a dollar I'm sure. The Cyclone was 50 cents.

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