Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Vertigo and the 1939 World's Fair

Today I wanted to share this great vintage press photo from the 1939 New York World's Fair. One of the Fair's most iconic attractions was the Amusement Zone's "Parachute Jump". At 262 feet high, some called it the "Eiffel Tower of Brooklyn". You'd go uuuuup, and then drop down. Unless something went wrong, like it did for this unfortunate couple. Their parachute got stuck 100 feet in the air. This photo is pretty remarkable, with the crowds of lookyloos below; that net was presumably installed by the fire department (or whoever) after they were trapped.

They look pretty calm and collected. Here's where my brain goes: thank goodness they didn't need to use the bathroom. (Sorry).

Here's the text affixed to the back of the photo. It took five hours to get them down, holy moly!

This makes me think of WindSeeker at Knott's Berry Farm, which had a similar mishap (two mishaps, actually) last September. Here's a view of it as taken from the Sky Cabin... that thing is tall! Apparently the ride stopped, leaving riders stranded for four hours. Cedar Fair closed all of its WindSeeker rides around the country, and the one at Knott's only just reopened on February 1st. 


Melissa said...

Must have been the inspiration for the scene in Mr.and Mrs. Smith where Gene Raymond and Carole Lombard get stuck on it.

Anonymous said...

Those wacky Rathborne's will do anything to get their picture in the paper. Looks like the donut shop came to a standstill as well - I can see two workers hanging over the counter watching the spectacle.

I also like the word "insouciance" being used so casually in the caption.

BTW, Acme Newspictures operated from 1923 until about 1952 when it was bought by United Press and eventually became the photo arm of UPI.

Bill in Denver

Major Pepperidge said...

Melissa, thanks for the link to the Hitchcock movie... "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" is one of the few that I have never seen. I really DO wonder if that scene wasn't inspired by what happened to the Rathbones?

Bill, if I worked at that donut shop, I would be watching the spectacle too! Did you just know all that about Acme Newspictures off the top of your head?

Clyde Hughes said...

These are great photos -thanks!
I noticed that the caption reads "Mrs. and Mrs. Rathbone...".
Thanks for the link, Melissa!
I shall miss the parachute ride at Six Flags Over Texas, having grown up with it. It seems a natural ride for Disney to have used. I wonder why they didn't?

K. Martinez said...

Clyde - Disney has used the parachute jump concept with four small children’s parachute towers in four of its parks. There are two “Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop” attractions located in the Toy Story Playland sections of Walt Disney Studios Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland and two “Jumpin’ Jellyfish” attractions located in Paradise Pier at Disney California Adventure’s and Mermaid Lagoon at Tokyo DisneySea. These towers however are only 40 feet tall. The Intamin parachute towers installed in the 1970s were usually over 200 feet tall.

At the time the Intamin parachute towers were installed at U.S. theme parks in the 1970s Disney didn’t do off-the-shelf rides and it would've been redundant to have one in Anaheim considering Knott's Berry Farm located down the road already had the "Parachute Sky Jump" which was similar to the "Texas Chute-Out" you grew up with in Texas.

Speaking of redundant, I never understood Disney installing the “Maliboomer” in DCA when there was an already taller "Supreme Scream" at Knotts'.

Anonymous said...

I would never get up in one of those towers. I had trouble with the Jellyfish.

@K Martinez. I think the reason the big rollercoaster is in DCA is as much a prop as a ride. The area down there is supposed to mimic the POP-NuPike kinds of midways, and those REQUIRE a big coaster to feel right, same with the Ferris Wheel. They're old hat, but essential for the backdrop.

Cool pics, Major. How about some IASW? Been a long time since we've seen those.


Hannahx2 said...

Once when in on a high school band trip I got stuck in a hotel glass elevator with a bunch of orchestra kids while the rest of my friends got to eat lunch and laughed at us. Pretty much the same thing.
That was on our trip to DL too. Ha.

Anonymous said...

I was a photographer for AP in the 70's and 80's and UPI was our biggest competitor. Acme credit lines would occasionally show up when old photos came across the desk, and I remembered they were affiliated with UPI. I had to look up the dates!

Bill in Denver

Snow White Archive said...

Great pic Major. Holy smokes I would not have been very calm myself.