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CYCLONE RACER, THE PIKE, LONG BEACH, 1956

Cyclone Racer, Long Beach

The Cyclone Racer, a Southern California landmark and star attraction of The Pike for nearly four decades, upstages two well-suited women posing near a trio of tin trashcans.

Built in 1930, the all-wooden coaster thrill ride was different than most because of side-by-side cars on twin tracks that raced all the way to the finish. Over the years, the rickety rollicker claimed the lives of more than a few drunken sailors who ignored the “DO NOT STAND UP” sign.

Roller coasters are a combo of architecture and transportation. Call it archi-tation or transport-tecture.

The Pike was a carnival a la Coney Island conveniently located at the end of the Red Car line on the waterfront of downtown Long Beach. It began just after the turn of the century as “The Walk of a Thousand Lights,” a boardwalk for a fashionable resort hotel and plunge.

By World War II, the Pike had grown into an amusement park extravaganza of 15 colorful acres of tempting thrill rides, freak shows, arcades, shooting galleries, dance halls, bars and tattoo parlors attracting a Red Car-riding beach crowd and thousands of salty sailors stationed in Long Beach.

By the late sixties, the party at the Pike was more or less over and the legendary Roller Coaster was demolished in 1969. Little by little, the dilapidated remains of the Pike were demolished as the property was slated for redevelopment. Today, not one Pike remnant remains in place.

Here’s to the Pike, Cyclone Racer, ladies and you!

Charles Phoenix
October 3, 2012