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The original Skee-Ball lanes were 26 feet longer than they are today.

Talk about a long shot. When J.D. Estes invented Skee-Ball in Philadelphia in 1909, he wasn’t playing around. In fact, the beloved arcade fixture was intended as a pastime for commuters. Estes was a heavy hitter in Philadelphia’s trolley industry, says Skee-Ball, Inc. vice president of operations Michael Sladek, and “the games were set up at the trolley station, where men would play while waiting to go to work.” The original lanes measured a daunting 36 feet in length but were shrunk by more than half—to 14 feet—in 1928 to broaden the game’s appeal and to ensure it would fit indoors. Today, Skee-Ball alleys are shorter still, at a kid-friendly 10 feet. Let’s just say they make for some easy rollin’.


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