This year, two great carousel events will be taking place here in New York City: the Fête Paradiso festival on Governors Island from July to September, and the opening of the SeaGlass Pavilion in Battery Park in October. In celebration of these openings, we bring you the restoration stories behind some of New York’s most iconic carousels, plus the newbies that will join them this year.
Fête Paradiso: Starting July 6th, Fête Paradiso, a festival of carousel and carnival attractions, will arrive to Governor’s Island on its worldwide tour. The festival will feature rides restored by a French family of artisans, including a recreation of the bicycle carousel, which we last saw in Midnight in Paris. The official website promises it to be “like a French film miraculously come to life.” For architecture buffs, we’ve heard that the space will be built to mimic a French town square and a bumper car pavilion from 1900 will be repurposed as a beer garden.
SeaGlass Pavilion: This aquatic-themed carousel, slated to open in October in Battery Park, was inspired by the aquarium that was once just feet away from SeaGlass’s location. Instead of horses, the attraction will have fiberglass fish that change colors during each ride using LED lights. The walls of the pavilion, which is shaped like the shell of a chambered nautilus, will glow cobalt blue at night, transporting riders to an oceanic playground. As architect Claire Weisz emphasizes, the building is meant to be not just a carousel, but a theater as well. Untapped Cities got a sneak peek of what SeaGlass will look like at night, recently:
B&B Carousell: Coney Island’s last surviving hand-carved carousel is back! A year ago, we reported on the efforts to restore the 1906 B&B Carousell (whose name retains spelling from the time period). To save it from destruction, the city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) purchased the carousel and shipped it to Ohio for restoration in 2005. Although strip malls were built over the former site of the carousel, a new area was cleared for the its return on Steeplechase Plaza.
Jane’s Carousel: We covered Jane’s Carousel back when it opened in 2011. This 1922 carousel was bought by David and Jane Walentas in 1984, and the latter spent over 20 years trying to restore each piece of the carousel. In September 2011, the carousel opened to the public in a pristine pavilion in Dumbo, Brooklyn, designed by Pritzker-winning architect Jean Nouvel. Although reception was initially lukewarm, with Brooklynites calling the attraction noisy and obstructive, Jane’s Carousel has (mostly) won over the public. Travel+Leisure named it the Best Public Space of 2012.
Jane’s Carousel at night
Fantasy Forest Carousel: This ride in Flushing Meadows, Queens, is unique for being a combination of two older carousels: the 1903 Feltman’s Carousel and 1908 Stubbman Carousel. The two were merged for the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Feltman’s was the first one purchased, but when it was discovered to be falling apart, the Stubbman machine was purchased as well. Then, the Feltman’s creatures (which were reportedly more ornate than Stubbman’s) were put on the Stubbman frame, and the Fantasy Forest Carousel was born.
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