After 27 Years, Historic Carousel Rides Again

MSNBC: It’s taken more than $15 million and 27 years of repair and restoration, but an elaborate, historic carousel that once entertained amusement park visitors in Ohio will begin welcoming riders at its new home in the DUMBO neighborhood (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) of Brooklyn on Friday.

The ride is now called Jane’s Carousel, named after Jane Walenta, the artist who spent more than a quarter century refurbishing and painstakingly restoring it. The carousel was built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company in 1922 and spent its heyday at Idora Park in Youngstown, Ohio. In 1975, it became the first carousel to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1984, Walenta and her husband, David, a DUMBO real estate developer, bought the ailing carousel for $385,000 and saved the 48-horse, 2-chariot treasure from being broken up and sold in pieces.

Then came the time-consuming and expensive part.

Walenta wanted the restoration of the carousel to be historically correct. So she ensured all the old paint was scraped off, all necessary carpentry repairs were made and, with the help of documentation for the carousel’s original design and color palette, that all the steeds were repainted to look as they did in 1922. The entire carousel housing also got a makeover, with newly repainted designs and stenciling, fresh mirrors and “jewels,” updated mechanical systems and re-wiring that includes 1,200 sparking lights.

Walenta's favorite piece of the ride is the lead horse — "the white horse with the Philadelphia Toboggan Company monogram on the saddle," she said as she was getting the carousel ready for its grand reopening.

The carousel is now housed at Brooklyn Bridge Park, in a $9 million pavilion designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel that has been described as a “transparent jewel box” offering riders views of the East River, Brooklyn and the Manhattan skyline. At night, when the horses and the carousel are resting, screens inside the pavilion will become the backdrop for an hourly light show projecting shadows of several rows of horses.

Those interested in taking a ride on the refurbished masterpiece will have to pony up $2. The carousel is open 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. every day except Tuesday.


Post a Comment