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Drugs, hookers and a 6 mph roller coaster: Inside Coney Island’s lecherous past

When LaMarcus Adna Thompson, a textile manufacturer in the Midwest, quit his job to start building amusement rides for fairs, he had loftier goals than just providing people with a good time. Lamarcus Thompson’s Switchback Railroad was the world’s first roller coaster. The ride had two style cars in this photo. The car in the distance, which seated passengers sideways to enjoy the view, was the original design.Library of CongressHis original, 6-mile-per-hour, 5-cents-a-ride Switchback Railway, built in 1884, would be so fun it would drive thrill-seekers away from the “vice and crime” poisoning society at the time. And what better place to debut such an invention than in the world’s most debauched adult playground of the era ...