Coney Island Steeplechase

I’d always loved the Velvet Underground song “Coney Island Steeplechase” from the Another View rarities CD.

But I never got the significance of the reference to “a sister and brother that cling to each other” until I saw a bit of the great Coney Island: The American Experience documentary last night.

sorry, Adam!

The Steeplechase was the name of an amusement park, but it was also the name of that park’s greatest attraction–a simulated race in which riders would pair up on mechanized horses that shot down a bumpy metal track.  If you were a woman, you’d literally have to cling to your boyfriend like a biker chick clinging to her dude on a motorcycle.  It looks way more fun than the mere rollercoaster I’d been envisioning for all these years.   Wouldn’t you like to go on a Coney Island Steeple?

The park lasted 67 years and closed sometime in the early sixties, so Lou Reed definitely had ridden these things as a child.  Remind me when I’m a famous rock star to do a song about the Phantasmagoria ride at Bells.

1 thought on “Coney Island Steeplechase

  1. The painting doesn’t really do it justice, the race track ran around the entire outside of the Steeplechase building, which was like a giant greenhouse, maybe four football fields in size, and about three or four stories high. The track was on the second story as I recall. There was nothing of the safety features you find on todays roller coasters, just sort of a heavy leather belt like you sometimes find on merry-go-rounds. The horses in fact were similar to merry-go-round horses, except they were articulated in the middle and flexed as they went up and down over the track. There was a felt pad that functioned as a saddle, and also served to keep your nether regions from being pinched as the horse circled the building. After one painful experience you learned to beware worn saddle felt, and stand up in the saddle when going over a whoop-dee-doo. There was a unique exit from this ride too. In fact there were lots of unique rides at Steeplechase, some I have never seen elsewhere. Now, as I am familiar with The Velvet Underground (and Nico) I must go research the cut you mention. Thanks for the trip, down memory lane.

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