Friday, December 7, 2007

The Rocket Ship

December 7 - Christmas Grab Bag Author’s choice.
Please post from a topic that helps you
remember Christmases past!

Christmas meant a trip downtown to visit Santa at the E. W. Edwards Department Store in Syracuse. The store had an Annex across the street from the main store that you got to through a tunnel that ran under the street, a real plus in Syracuse winters.

There we would find Toyland and Santa. But the best part was the monorail that traveled around the ceiling of the annex, called the Rocket Ship.

It appears that the ride first debuted in 1953, a year after the Annex was opened, and was originally called the "Rocket Express." It cost 9¢ to ride. From The Syracuse Herald-American, December 13, 1953, by Liz Dyer:

In one store you can get rid of junior (temporarily) by sending him on a rocket ship ride. He and his cohorts zoom merrily through the sky above the toy department. Luckily the windows of the rocket are "pressure" sealed. Junior is thus assured of plenty of oxygen. And daddy is assured of protection from becoming the object of a bombing mission.

For those of us that grew up in Syracuse during the 50's and 60's, this is a special holiday memory. Last year, Sean Kirst, a local columnist, wrote about Christmas memories of downtown that generated a lot of responses about the Rocket Ship. He then repeated an article that he originally wrote in 2000 here about the rebirth of a similar ride in Rochester.

The only pictures that I could find in old newspapers were the drawings from ads that I've included here and four fantastic pictures that the Onondaga Historical Association has in their Image Database. I can't link directly to the pictures so you will have to do a search for "Edwards". I was shocked when I saw these images and realized that we didn't travel several stories up as in my memories!

E. W. Edwards closed long ago and suburban malls have replaced shopping trips to the city so I count myself lucky to have been the right age at the right time to have been able to ride the Rocket Ship.

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Anonymous said...

Haha, I rode this as a young boy many times. I was just telling someone about this when I looked it up on the web. Great memories!

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

I'm happy we share a happy childhood memory. I hope you checked out the picyures at the Onondaga Historical Association site.

Thanks for stopping by!