Monday, September 29, 2014

A Carousel Odyssey, part 1

Eleven carousels in four days. I rode them, photographed them, discussed them, and in a few cases fell in love with them.

The occasion: the National Carousel Association convention, this year centered in New York City. Peter and I have been involved for 26 years with this group, which works to keep antique carousels operating. But this was my first convention, joining more than 200 carousel aficionados to visit selected antique carousels. The schedule is always packed, and long bus rides are inevitable. (Not a fan of bus rides, Peter stayed home.)

The most spectacular setting, by far, was Jane's Carousel in Brooklyn, virtually in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge. Riders enjoy spectacular views of the East River and Manhattan (see above and the header).

Jane Walentas, for whom the 1922 carousel is now named, is not the idle rich dowager I'd imagined her to be. An artist married to a real estate developer, she rescued the carousel at a 1984 auction in Youngstown, Ohio. Then she spent 26 years restoring it so her husband could make it the crown jewel of a revived Brooklyn area known as DUMBO--Down Under the Manhattan-Brooklyn Overpass. And it's beautiful. She has used subtle colors the original painter would have used--the same man who painted all the horses on the carousel we operate at Como Park. Jane's Carousel is a younger sister to ours, both built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company.

Remember this media image from Hurricane Sandy? Jane's Carousel looked like a fragile gem about to be swept away. But its acrylic jewel-box building held, the carousel was undamaged, and its lights stayed on--a solitary beacon through the storm. I was excited to visit this carousel but I didn't know whether I was going to like its unusually modern home. In fact it's perfect. If you're ever in the neighborhood, be sure to stop by. And you can see more at Jane's Carousel website.

I'll be back in a few days with a couple of  other very special carousels from this journey. I leave you with this shot, from Jane's site, of the overhead rounding boards. All the scenery paintings are original; Jane restored them by removing layers of old, darkened varnish.

Note: when this post first ran, it was accompanied by this photo, cropped and used as a header. 

 

13 comments:

Jayne Martin said...

It makes me so happy to see these treasures being so lovingly saved and restored. Is there anything more joyful that the sound and sight of a carousel? I think not. Thanks for sharing, Nancy.

J said...

I loved joining you on your "up and down" ride through the convention! The carousel experience is always magical - but when you're standing next to a grandchild who's riding the animal of his/her dreams, there's nothing that compares!

Stephen Hayes said...

These carousels are such a vivid reminder of our past and I'm so glad there are people like you preserving them for future generations. Thank you.

DJan said...

How very beautiful! I was enchanted by the first pictures, and then to see it in its light box, knowing it survived intact, it was wonderful to see. If I ever get to the neighborhood, I'll be going. And looking forward to more in the future. :-)

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I once lived in Brooklyn, NY, and often visited Brooklyn Bridge Park and Jane's Carousel! It took many years of planning, fundraising and sacrifice on jane's part to make this dream come true.

The Broad said...

Wonderful treasures are carousels. We have one here in Southport, but nice as it is not as spectacular as those you have shown here. I saw a magnificent one in Raleigh, North Carolina when I visited earlier this year -- it's just a few paces from the charming statue of Andy and Opie in Pullen Park.

Grandmother (Mary) said...

This carousel is beautiful- thanks for showing us. I've enjoyed various of them as we travel around and get delighted when the grands love them as well. There's one in Central Park that we always rode when visited John's sister.

troutbirder said...

They so gorgeous and evoke memories of long ago amusement parks and fairs....:)

Jeanie said...

This sounds wonderful -- and so you! I didn't know the story of Jane's Carousel -- I'm so glad it escaped the wrath of Sandy. I'm looking forward to many more on posts on this!

Far Side of Fifty said...

Wow It is beautiful! What fun to visit so many works of art:)

Kc W said...

You are so passionate about carousels and it sure comes across in your posts. Thank you so much for sharing it with all of us. I for one, will never get there so I do appreciate it!

Deb Shucka said...

I love the history of this and the singular beauty of your carousels. Incredible works of art. The picture of the carousel surrounded by water is magical and sort of otherworldly. What a cool thing you're doing!

Kate said...

There is a blogger who frequently visits Paris and loves carousels. She would adore your post.

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