When the B&B Carousell reopens in Coney Island next season, the restored 1919 ride will spin in a glass pavilion next to the Parachute Jump. The progress of construction on the pavilion and its new home Steeplechase Plaza can be seen in the above photo. Large-scale neon lettering spelling B&B CAROUSELL will encircle the top of the completed pavilion. Coney Island’s last hand-carved carousel was saved from auction in 2005 when the City purchased it for $1.8 million from the McCullough family who operated it on the north side of Surf Avenue since the 1970s.
The Parachute Jump, the sole survivor of Steeplechase Park, is also a focal point of Steeplechase Plaza. The red, yellow and blue sheet metal panels and medallions at the base of the Jump are getting a redo as you can see in the photo below.
While fans of the Jump continue to hope that the landmark ride will someday be restored to operation, we don’t see that happening due to liability concerns and high costs. In an article that we wrote for Preservation Magazine in 2002, independent ride engineer and certified safety inspector Ed Pribonic expressed concerns about stress on the structure and the viability of reusing original components. “As a visual icon, it’s probably fine,” he said. “When you’re talking about turning it into an operating amusement ride that carries passengers and is subject to thousands of dynamic load cycles a day, then it becomes a different engineering problem.”
Besides, Coney Island is getting a 2.2 acre public plaza on the old Steeplechase site, not a new Steeplechase Park. According to the NYCEDC’s press release issued at the time of last November’s groundbreaking, the plaza will be the western gateway to the revitalized Coney Island and will be large enough to host a variety of events. For the first time, visitors will be able to walk directly underneath the Parachute Jump and gaze up at the latticework structure from the inside. The landmark will also get a new lighting scheme to “bring the bling to Coney Island,” in the words of Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.
Related posts on ATZ…
May 29, 2012: Photo Album: Coney Island Lights & Signs of the Times
February 2, 2012: Thor’s Coney Island: Generic New Building at Surf & Stillwell
December 4, 2011: Brass Ring Dept: Coney Island “Carousell” RFP Up for Grabs