2011-04-01 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

Electric Speedboats On The Boardwalk Near Playland … 1930s
From The Rockaway Museum Commentary by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

In the mid 1930s Steeplechase Park in Seaside was feeling the effects of competition from Rockaway’s Playland, its neighboring amusement park on the east side of Beach 98 Street, and had to come up with a new attraction.

An electric speedboat ride was built on the boardwalk, on the west side of Beach 98 Street, which featured real boats, in the water, electrically operated in the same way as the famous scooter ride. The boats were fed power from an electrified wire mesh at the ceiling. A pole from the aft end of the boat went up to the wire mesh, where an electrical shoe at the pole’s end made contact. This supplied power to the electrical motor, and the water was the ground, so to speak! The boats were sleek and held two riders side by side. Signs were posted all around to – “keep your hands out of the water,” and attendants voiced the same.

The ride was popular until there was a serious accident or near electrocution, and the attraction was shut down and not reopened.

Seaside opened its own version of a boat ride, and this one had real outboard motors to run the boats. An explosion and injuries closed this ride up for good. Both would have closed up anyway, to make a point, for Shorefront Parkway was coming. Two hundred feet of amusement locations were demolished between the boardwalk and the north sidewalk of the new road …. that went from nowhere to nowhere …according to some.

Today, Views publishes an ad for the electric boat ride, and we are still looking for a picture of the attraction. Anybody have one for us?

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