Today in history: First roller coaster in America opens

Coney Island - roller coasters
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Today in history: First roller coaster in America opens
The "Switchback Railway" - America's 1st roller coaster. Built in Coney Island in 1884. Admission: 5¢.
People outside the entrance to Luna Park on Coney Island, New York. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
A female lifeguard at Steeplechase park, Coney Island stands with a whistle between her lips as she points to a transgressor in the pool below. In the background is a fairground big-wheel. (Photo by Helmut Kretz/Getty Images)
July 1966: Sun seekers on the beach at Coney Island. (Photo by Harry Benson/Express/Getty Images)

Today in 1884, the first roller coaster in America opens at Coney Island, in Brooklyn, New York, revolutionizing the history of the American amusement park.

The first roller coaster was designed by American inventor Lamarcus Adna Thompson, who would later be known as the "father of gravity." Thompson was inspired by a trip to the hills in eastern Pennsylvania, where a railroad line that was originally used to transport coal had been converted into a tourist attraction.

The first roller coaster traveled at approximately six miles per hour and cost a nickel to ride.

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