3. Prospect Park’s First Carousel
Carousel in 1885, Prospect Park Archives/Herbert Mitchell Collection
The Park’s first carousel was erected in 1874 in the northeast corner of the Park in the Rose Garden and the Vale of Cashmere, an area known as the Children’s Playground at the time. According to David P. Colley in the book Prospect Park: Olmsted and Vaux’s Brooklyn Masterpiece, the carousel was the garden’s “greatest attraction.”
A small, 24-horse structure, it was propelled by an old, white, blind horse that worked in the windowless cellar, and cost three cents per ride. An organ projected music while the ride went round and round. Colley writes that the “lack of shade and the heat in the Vale of Cashmere eventually forced closure of the playground around 1890…But the Carousel was so popular that the park board recommended that a second one be built near the picnic grounds.” The Children’s Playground area was redesigned dramatically by McKim, Mead & White later into the Vale of Cashmere.