Profile America: Thrill Rides

Wednesday, June 20th. With summer and school vacation almost here, children will be urging their parents to take them to the nearest amusement park. Among the most popular features of these parks are ever more thrilling roller coasters, which trace their roots back to 17th century ice slides in Russia.

Roller coaster

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In the United States, the first roller coaster opened this month in 1884 at Coney Island, New York. It was built by LaMarcus Thompson and was called the “Gravity Pleasure Switchback Railway.” The ride lasted a minute at a breakneck six miles per hour and cost a nickel. Now, there are 523 theme and amusement parks across the nation, and they do more than $12.5 billion worth of business — or pleasure — annually.

You can find more facts about America’s people, places and economy, from the American Community Survey at

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