The Bowery was the heart and soul of Coney Island. It became a screaming fairyland of freaks and fortunetellers. There was always some kind of magic being performed with smoke and mirrors, all disguised by the pandemonium and ballyhoo of sound and confusion. It was a city within a city, with 500 enterprising entrepreneurs, built of dreams where city folks could put aside their cares and play as children play.
In 1894, George Tilyou erected Coney’s first Ferris Wheel. Over the next couple of years, Tilyou added an Aerial Slide, an imported Bicycle Railroad and the Double Dip Chutes.
Consolidating all of his rides together on the Bowery, Tilyou opened Steeplechase Park in 1897. His main attraction was the simulated Steeplechase Horses. It featured an 1100-foot curved metal racetrack with double-saddled wooden horses on wheels and it operated on gravity. Attendants were dressed as jockeys and buglers and he added realistic touches such as hurdles and a streambed.