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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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A Thrill a Minute: 1911

A Thrill a Minute: 1911

June 13, 1911. The Cake Walk at Luna Park on Coney Island. View full size. 5x7 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection. Who can describe this ride?

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Only the barkers spiel changes

Variations on the cake-walk are still to be found in the traveling carnival's fun house or horror house, along with the rotating barrel and rocking bridge. My favorite was the house of mirrors, all you had to do was look down and follow the wear pattern on the floor.

Cake Walk

IMDB description for the silent film "Jack Fat and Jim Slim at Coney Island," released December 1910: "Most of the attractions at Luna Park involved flinging the patrons across whirling discs or revolving walls; in our modern litigious era, such attractions are unimaginable. One comparatively modest attraction which we see here is the Cake Walk: basically a moving staircase, with two halves moving independently. We see an attractive young girl negotiating this easily."


Cakewalk attractions are still very popular on fairgrounds in the Netherlands.

The Witching Wave

From "Coney Island - Luna Park":

Theophilus Van Kennel's Witching Waves installed at Luna in 1907 consisted of large oval course with a flexible metal floor. By using a system of reciprocating levers beneath the floor, the ride generated a continuous wave-like motion, followed by another in the flexible floor without the actual floor moving forward. Steerable small cars seating two passengers were propelled forward by the undulating floor. It was fascinating to watch and a popular fun ride.

Maine Line

Looks like the "Sinking of the Maine" ride in the background.

The Cakewalk

I believe the typical cakewalk amusement park ride consisted of a walkway with floor panels that moved in different directions, forward and backward, side to side, up and down, and even rotating, making forward progress difficult and amusing.

Cakewalk Video

From a history of the cakewalk:

The cakewalk was named after a dance which was in vogue at the time. The mechanism consisted of undulating bridges and gangways driven by cranks, The driving belt was often connected to the organ which meant that a speed up of the music meant a speed up of the ride and a speed up of the riders jerking on the bridges.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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