‘Round about Pittsburgh: Local Man Revolutionizes Amusement Park Industry

Frederick Ingersoll was an early innovator in the Amusement Park Industry.

Courtesy of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Photo Credit is unknown

Frederick Ingersoll was an early innovator in the Amusement Park Industry.

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Many people are probably not familiar with the name Frederick Ingersoll, but might know the name Six Flags.  Pittsburgh native, Frederick Ingersoll was the first man who created the first chain of amusement parks, entitled Luna Park.

At the turn of the 20th century, Ingersoll had made a name for himself in the amusement park industry by designing and building numerous scenic railways, now known as roller coasters and water rides that later became the modern day log flume.  One of Ingersoll’s roller coasters operated at local Pittsburgh amusement park Kennywood.  In 1905, Ingersoll opened his first Luna Park outside of Pittsburgh in Oakland.  Luna Park became popular for its performances, architecture, interesting attractions, and most famously for the use of electricity.  The idea for Luna Park was copied after Frederic Thompson opened Luna Park at Coney Island, New York.

Luna Parks were filled with thousands of lights that would come to life at night.  The park was also famous for its unique entrance.  Ingersoll, expanded the amusement park industry, by using the ideas of Thompson.  The park concept and its entrance would later be incorporated into Kennywood’s 1995 expansion “Lost Kennywood.”

A highlight at every Luna Park was the shoot-the-chutes attraction in the center of the park.  Kennywood kept this as a key element when designing Lost Kennywood and installed a modern version of the ride in the center of Lost Kennywood.  Although the Pittsburgh Luna Park closed in 1909, other Luna Parks remained opened.

In his lifetime, Frederick Ingersoll owned and operated 44 amusement parks, creating the nations first chain of amusement parks, and designed or either built 277 roller coasters.  He also had patents in the amusement park industry.  Ingersoll has been ranked by many individuals as one of the most influential men in the amusement park industry.  In 1992, Ingersoll was introduced into the hall of fame at the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions.   He was a true visionary and entrepreneur.  Without his contributions, the amusement park industry would be completely different.

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