Posts Tagged ‘Luna Park Coney Island’

Riding an elephant at Coney Island’s Luna Park

July 15, 2017

If rides like Helter Skelter, Shoot the Chutes, and the Witching Waves weren’t enough excitement for you, you could always take advantage of another thrill offered at Luna Park: elephant rides.

Opened in 1903, Luna Park was the Surf Avenue pleasure pavilion that entertained millions of Coney Island fun-seekers every summer with the kinds of rides and spectacles no amusement park could get away with today.

This postcard dates to 1906—those women don’t look like they’re enjoying Brooklyn on an elephant, do they?

The elephants at the Hippodrome

October 10, 2008

When it opened in 1905, the Hippodrome was “the largest playhouse in the world,” as the back of this 1907 postcard triumphantly states. Located on Sixth Avenue between 43rd and 44th Streets, it was a spectacular place for New Yorkers to see theater, silent movies, and choruses. 

And elephant acts too. The Hippodrome was built by the same firm that created Luna Park, the amusement mecca of Coney Island at the time. The Hippodrome had Luna Park’s crazy carnival vibe, and the venue staged many shows featuring animals, especially elephants.

One popular crowd-pleaser involved training elephants to dive into a custom made 8,000-gallon tank of water on stage. As a September 10, 1905 New York Times article explains:

“Trainer Powers finally shouted to Big Jennie, and she started timidly to the gangway leading into the tank. The three other elephants followed. A man rode on the head of Ada, who gave him a ducking as she plunged into the water. All four elephants immediately started to swim, the stage flooring having been lowered to allow a depth of fifteen feet of water.”

The Hippodrome and its elephant acts bit the dust in 1939. An office building stands in its place.