Steeplechase Park was the first one of the first amusement parks erected at Coney Island. Started by George C. Tilyou in 1897, it helped set the tone for what we today associate with the iconic Brooklyn destination. Tilyou built the first Ferris wheel at Coney Island, having more than a bit of P.T. Barnum's ambition in him. He also possessed Barnum's boss-level swagger, as evidenced by this little anecdote.
In 1907 Steeplechase Park burned to the ground. The morning after the fire, Tilyou left this sign outside the park:
To enquiring friends: I have troubles today that I had not yesterday. I had troubles yesterday which I have not today. On this site will be built a bigger, better, Steeplechase Park. Admission to the burning ruins -- Ten cents.
If you know of something harder than charging admission to the burning wreckage of what was the day prior the whole of your life, the product of all your enterprising, please tell us. For now, we're crowning Tilyou.
Moments like this define Coney Island. In its history, the place has seen as much trouble as it has success. "Nothing in this world is free" could be the attraction's slogan. But don't take our word for it. Just follow the progress of the roller coaster in the infographic above.