lost skyrides

After a City Loses its Skyride

How long does it take a city to heal from the loss of its beloved skyride? It takes a long time. Just ask the people of San Antonio.

In San Antonio’s beautiful Brackenridge Park in 1964, a brand-new Von Roll skyride opened. The skyride operated between the San Antonio Zoo and the Japanese Sunken Garden, now Japanese Tea Garden. The skyride became an immediate hit. It reportedly remained a top San Antonio attraction until it was shut down permanently in 1999 and later dismantled.

In the case of the Brackenridge Skyride, it had been neglected in its later years until its condition deteriorated to the point where Von Roll would not certify the ride as safe to operate. Unwilling to spend the huge dollar amount needed to bring the skyride back to operable condition, city officials sealed the fate of the much-loved skyride. Finally in 2002, the San Antonio Zoo reportedly spent $30,000 to remove the Brackenridge skyride. And people have been sad or unhappy about that ever since.

In 2016, seated in a restored Brackenridge skyride gondola, San Antonio born-and-raised television reporter Emily Baucum revealed her own nostalgia for the long-gone skyride while reporting from a museum exhibit about the potential use of skyrides as a transportation system for San Antonio. The comments about the Brackenridge skyride from San Antonio residents struck me. Especially impactful was the lady who recalled how the skyride was the highlight for her on childhood visits to the San Antonio Zoo. Later in the report she poignantly expressed regret that she couldn’t take her own children to ride the skyride [because it was gone]. By the way, Emily Baucum spent time in Tulsa reporting for KOTV.

Watch Emily Baucum’s 2016 nostalgia-fest about the defunct Brackenridge skyride. Also, the part about skyrides being used for urban transportation is not far fetched. In recent years, massive skyride systems have been installed in major cities throughout Latin America for public transport.

In 2017, it was big news in San Antonio when two skyride gondolas were beautifully refurbished by auto collision refinishing technology students. The refurbished gondolas were given a place of honor in San Antonio’s downtown Hemisfair park. In the park, they are used for seating. By this time it had been about eighteen years since the skyride was closed. Yet two of the skyride cabins that wouldn’t give anyone a ride were making headlines.

Just the news that two skyride cabins had been restored for placement in Hemisfair park for seating was a big deal for a city that still misses its skyride.

Even today in 2021, there are plenty of people who still miss their Brackenridge Park skyride. And there are still those who lament that they never had the opportunity to take their own children on the skyride. Don’t let this happen to Tulsa!

Sign the online petition to help save the Tulsa Skyride!


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