The True Story of the “Annie Hall” Roller Coaster House


Remember Alvy Singer? The neurotic, paranoid stand-up comic played by the neurotic, paranoid Woody Allen in Annie Hall? In one of the film’s most memorable scenes, Alvy traces his adult neuroses to his having been raised in the house beneath the Thunderbolt in Coney Island. The constant shaking and rattling of the roller coaster easily explains Alvy’s jumpy, anxious personality, but what would inspire someone to build a home in such an unstable location?

Actually, it’s the other way around.

The house was first built in 1895 and operated as a small inn called The Kensington Hotel. In an effort to bolster business, the hotel’s owner hired John A. Miller, father of the modern high-speed roller coaster, to build a wooden coaster over the house. Steel poles were placed through the building, and the 2nd floor was removed to make room for the tracks. The roller coaster was in operation from 1925 until 1982, and stood abandoned until it was illegally torn down in 2000 by Mayor Giuliani.

It was, however, recently announced that the Thunderbolt will be rebuilt for next summer, though sadly the house was left out of the new design.


Watch the Annie Hall scene beneath the Thunderbolt:

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