Designed and built by John A. Miller and Harry C. Baker in 1920, it is one of the oldest still-running roller coasters in the world. The ride's three trains were manufactured by Edward Vettel, Sr. in 1951 and contain three cars of six seats each. The aging cars are considered a part of the ride's nostalgic experience but also lead to some young children being disallowed to enter the ride (36" is the minimum), due to the use of a small lapbar to hold in riders. A popular early feature of the ride was a tunnel which covered the turnaround section after the first drop, but this was removed in 1947 when the new cars were ordered. In 1991, the tunnel was restored, at a slightly shorter length.
The Jack Rabbit was built shortly after Miller patented a new track design in 1920 (which all wooden coasters built since have used). This design involved the use of wheels both under and over the track, which allowed Miller to create the then enormous 70-foot (21 m) drop that is the attraction's largest. It is most well known for its double dip following the lift hill. The double dip produces strong airtime that makes the rider feel that they will be thrown from the seat, and a feeling that the train leaves the track (it rises up but the upstop wheels keep it firmly on the rails).
According to Rick Sebak, producer of Pittsburgh history programs for WQED, the attraction was designed so that each train's last seat would provide the strongest airtime, and therefore the most desired ride.