2009-02-20 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

Memories Of Old Rockaway
From The Rockaway Museum Commentary by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

A ppearing today in views is one of the last photographs taken of the old Rockaways' Playland Midway Walk. The time is the season of 1984,

and the park closed for good in the following year. In 1987

Rockaways' Playland was demolished and the land cleared for a housing development. That, for various reasons, was delayed, and not constructed as originally planned.

In today's view, with the Atom Smasher rollercoaster in the background, we see the Mow-em-Down Shooting Gallery, the Famous Playland Fun House, and the body contorting mirror maze!

Underneath the fun house sign is the small footbridge, that when crossed by a pretty female wearing a skirt or dress, startled her with a big upward blast of compressed air to create the famous Marilyn Monroe scene from the movies. The bridge was viewable from the midway, where park patrons would get a free show - so to speak. At times, an unsuspecting female without undergarments was the hit of the park, but this was rare.

Rockaways' Playland opened in 1928, but had its beginnings as part of George C. Tilyou's Steeplechase Park in Rockaway Beach in 1901, and in 1905 became the L.A. Thompson Amusement Park. The Thompson name may be meaningless to many persons today, but it was he who invented the rollercoaster in the year 1884, building the first on the west side of West 10 Street, beside the Feltmann Hotel and Pavilions thereat.

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