Fred Trump And The Destruction Of Steeplechase Park

Fred Trump And The Destruction Of Steeplechase Park

"You won't find the original amusement park rides and other attractions on Coney Island today."
296
views

Years before Donald Trump was a constant face in the business and now political world, his father, Fred Trump decided he wanted to build apartment buildings on Coney Island. The the same Coney Island known for its amusement parks. Unfortunately, you won't find the original amusement park rides and other attractions on Coney Island today, and that's partially thanks to Fred Trump.

George C. Tilyou grew up in a family that ran and owned a restaurant on Coney Island. The responsibility of which was transferred to him when he was an adult. When thinking of how to improve his business, it must have been fate that Tilyou attended the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, and happened to see the first Ferris wheel (built by George Washington Gale Jr. to match the Eiffel Tower unveiled at the 1889 Paris World's Fair.) Upon seeing maybe one of the greatest feats of the late 1800's, Tilyou decided to build his own Ferris wheel. The wheel became extremely popular and lead to the construction of Steeplechase Park, the first (and last) of the three major Coney Island amusement parks.

While Steeplechase Park entertained people for years, all good things come to an end. In 1964, Tilyou's daughter, Marie Tilyou closed the amusement park in response to decreased profits and the destruction of the neighborhood. Not long after closing, Marie sold the park to Fred Trump.

Trump saw the area as not a place to entertain young and old alike, but as a place to create giant seaside towers of apartments. There was a problem though, the area wasn't zoned for residences. Naturally, Trump didn't take this and fought (and tried to cheat) his way into getting what he wanting. When he noticed this wasn't working, he decided to have a "amusement park funeral." Trump saw the problem in his way as the neighborhood's attachment to the amusement park. Like any rational person, he decided to destroy what people loved to get their support.

The "amusement park funeral" featured girls in bikinis and the chance to destroy the amusement park with stones and bricks. Once Trump was done trashing the 69 year old piece of history, he bulldozed it (except for certain rides and concessions). It was destroyed just in time, otherwise it would have gotten that ever-dreadful landmark status. Once again he resumed his attempts to get the area rezoned.

Ultimately, the local government decided not to let Fred Trump build his hotels and he decided to lease the land to ride operators. This was the start of one of those ride operators, Norman Kaufman's attempt to restore the park to its original glory. He worked at it until the 1980's but was never able to compare to the original Steeplechase Park. Kaufman was eventually evicted from the land by the city (Trump sold the property in 1969) and most of his additions were removed.

In the following years, a variety of things occupied the land (or were proposed to occupy the land). Today, the MCU Park, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones sits where Steeplechase Park once was. The only thing left that would tell anyone there was once an amusement park there is the defunct Parachute Jump, known to some as the "Eiffel Tower of Brooklyn."

Cover Image Credit: Dick Mooran - Flickr

Popular Right Now

It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.
875446
views

Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.


Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Irish-American History Is Just As Important As Any Other Culture, You Can't Prove Me Wrong

I cherish being Irish and I will not let anyone let me feel bad for that.

187
views

Depending on when you're reading this, Saint Patrick's day has either just passed or is around the corner. For me, Saint Patrick's day is tomorrow. I've been debating this article for some time now because I didn't know how it would be perceived. At this point, though, I feel it's important for me to get out. No, Irish people were never kept as slaves in America, and I will never be one to try and say they were. However, Irish people were treated tremendously awful in America. A lot of people tend to forget, or just try to erase entirely, the history of the Irish in America. So much so that I felt shameful for wanting to celebrate my heritage. Therefore, I want to bring to light the history that everyone brushes under the rug.

In 1845, a potato famine broke out across Ireland. This was a big deal because the Irish lived off, mainly, potatoes. They were cheap, easy to grow, and had tons of nutrients. So when the famine struck, many people either died of starvation or fled to America in seek of refuge. When the Irish arrived in America they were seen as a threat to the decency of America. People viewed them as drunk beasts, sinful savages, barbaric, violent, belligerent, stupid, and white apes. When the Irish would go to look for jobs, many times they found signs that read "Irish Need Not Apply," even when the job was hiring. Therefore, the Irish did the jobs no one wanted, and even jobs African slaves wouldn't do. The biggest example of this is when Irishmen built canals and drained swamps. They were sent to do these things because of the enormous amount of mosquitoes; in the swamp, they would get bit and ultimately die of malaria.

Also, during this time, Irish people were poor and therefore lived in the same neighborhoods as the free African Americans. A lot of the Irish people were friendly with their neighbors of color and even got into interracial relationships. Because the Irish lived in these neighborhoods they were seen as dirty and even a lot of people at this time put African Americans higher on the totem pole than Irish. One person during the time even said, "At least the black families keep their homes clean."

The main reason American's outlook on Irish people changed was that most Irishmen took up fighting for the Union in the Civil War. I make this argument, not because I think the Irish suffered more than African slaves. I don't say this in means of trying to erase the struggles of the African slaves. I do not think that any of our ancestors should have been treated the way they were. I mean to say that the Irish did in fact suffer. Irish people were treated wrongly on the basis of...nothing. Simply because my ancestors hailed from the shores of Eire, they were treated with malice. And I write this simply because I want people to remember. I want people to understand what happened.

On Saint Patrick's Day this year, next year, and for the many years to come, I want people to embrace the Irish culture. I want the folks of Irish heritage to not be ashamed of where they come from; to not be ashamed to share their culture the way I have for many years. I want everyone to have a beer, wear some green, eat a potato or two, and dance the Irish step; to celebrate the history of Irish people with a bit more understanding than before.

Related Content

Facebook Comments