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Ten years in the making, the much-anticipated SeaGlass Carousel at Battery Park will open to the public on Thursday, August 20th, from 1pm till midnight. Today, at a press preview, ATZ captured the unique ride’s inaugural spin in the above video. For its second go-round, we hopped aboard one of the 30 bioluminescent fish and shot an on-ride video through its porthole. Glowing Angelfish, Lionfish, and Butterflyfish changed colors as they swam by in a 360-degree aquatic dance. It is a very calming, otherworldly experience and totally unlike any other carousel or amusement ride.

George Tsypin

George Tsypin set to ride one of the fish that he designed for the SeaGlass Carousel. August 19, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Among the carousel’s riders was George Tsypin, the internationally acclaimed opera designer who created the opening ceremony for the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi. His latest creation is what he calls “the dancing fish.”

“I always try to do something I’ve never done before,” he remarked at the press conference. “SeaGlass Carousel allows visitors to experience a ‘mini-opera’ in which they are spectators, actors and participants.” He describes it as a reinvention of the carousel for the 21st century with the choreography of movement being the most important thing. “You can program the movement in many different ways. It’s a living organism that we tried to create.”

The fiberglass fish are a bit like a capsule, Tsypin adds, noting that you can’t ride a shark as you would a horse. “Children can feel like they’re in a secret world in their own little capsule.”

SeaGlass Carousel

Girl riding SeaGlass Carousel at press preview. August 19, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Celebrating the history of the Battery as the first home of the New York Aquarium, which was located in Castle Clinton from 1896 until 1941, the carousel was designed to simulate a dive to the bottom of the sea. “Most New York City children will not scuba dive or snorkel,” said the Battery Conservancy’s Warrie Price. “This is a simulation of them being fish.”

The SeaGlass Carousel’s iridescent fish are set on four moving turntables within a nautilus shell structure. The 46-foot grand turntable gently rotates 360 degrees. Within it are three on-board turntables, which slowly rotate 120 degrees in each direction on their own axes, adding an oscillating motion. Eighteen of the fish move up and down. “These various systems generate up to 25 axes of motion…swimming indeed,” according to the Conservancy. Since all mechanisms are located below the floor, there is no centerpole, as is customary with carousels.

SeaGlass Carousel

SeaGlass Carousel features iridescent fish set on four moving turntables within a nautilus shell structure. August 19, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Last year, the Battery Conservancy issued an RFP (Request for Proposals) for the operation and maintenance of the SeaGlass Carousel along with food and merchandise carts in Battery Park. Ride Entertainment Group’s New York division, NY Carousel, was selected to operate the ride, which after opening day will spin daily from 10am to 10pm. The cost is $5 per ride. The group also operates Fantasy Forest at the Flushing Meadows Carousel and the Forest Park Carousel in Queens, as well as Fantasy Shore at Midland Beach in Staten Island and carousels in Boston and Baltimore.

SeaGlass Carousel

Moms and kids aboard the SeaGlass Carousel at Battery Park. August 19, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Created by the Battery Conservancy together with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, SeaGlass Carousel was conceived and designed by WXY Architecture + Urban Design and their engineering teams, George Tsypin Opera Factory and Show Canada. The $16 million dollar project was funded with $8 million in public funds and $8 million in private funds. The Tiffany & Co. Foundation Woodland Gardens encircle SeaGlass Carousel.

Tiffany & Co. Foundation Woodland Gardens

The Tiffany & Co. Foundation Woodland Gardens encircle Battery Park’s SeaGlass Carousel. August 19, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

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Forest Park Carousel

First horse back on the Forest Park Carousel after off-season overhaul. Photo via NY Carousel

The century-old landmark carousel in Forest Park, Queens, is awhirl again after an off-season overhaul intended to keep it running for the next hundred years, said David Galst of NY Carousel, which operates the ride for the City’s Parks Department. “We’re taking anything off the ride that rotates,” explains Galst in the video below documenting the carousel’s dismantling and re-assembly. The work started in November and was overseen by restorer Todd Goings of Ohio’s Carousels and Carvings. What makes this carousel unique in today’s world, says Goings, are the outer row of horses carved by Daniel Muller. “They became too valuable and everybody took the carousels down in spite of the horses to collect them. This one survived.”

In 2013, the Forest Park Carousel was designated an official New York City Landmark, the only carousel in the City to have this honor.

Carver Daniel Muller studied sculpting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He found part-time work in the carousel workshops of Charles Looff in Brooklyn and William H. Dentzel in Philadelphia. Dentzel constructed the frame of this carousel in 1890 and the majority of the carved figures are believed to date from 1903 or 1910. It was originally in Dracut, Massachusetts, and opened at Forest Park in 1973 to replace another Dentzel carousel destroyed in a fire. The carousel has 36 jumpers, 13 standing horses and three menagerie animals – a lion, a deer and a tiger.

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June 25, 2014: Amusement Rides Return to Staten Island’s Beachfront

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It’s summer Down Under but British-Australian artist and illustrator Sarah Beetson is already dreaming of next summer in Coney Island, which she calls “her favourite place of inspiration.” At home in her studio in Gold Coast, Queensland, Beetson has painted dozens of Polaroids that she snapped during a three-month residency in Coney last summer. Now she has assembled them into a lively and inventive new video.

“Sara Beetson’s Coney Island Painted Polaroids” gathers shots of Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park’s painted clown faces (originally in Astroland) and signage and the B&B Carousell’s horses set to the tune of Michael Jackson’s “Carousel.” The frame by frame addition of hand-lettered lyrics is delightful and will make you want to sing along: “Lost my heart on the carousel to a circus girl who left my heart in pieces…”

Sarah Beetson

Sarah Beetson with Stanley Fox, and her painting of him, at the Coney Island History Project. June 21, 2014. Photo © Coney Island History Project

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Deno's Wonder Wheel Park Carousel

Deno’s Carousel being dismantled for the winter, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. October 29, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

After closing for the season on October 26th, the carousel at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park was partially disassembled and the horses were put to bed for the winter. Luckily, ATZ happened to be there to snap a few shots. Who knew that the ponies spend the off-season hibernating inside the dark ride Spook-A-Rama?! (more…)

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SeaGlass Carousel

SeaGlass Carousel. Courtesy Battery Park Conservancy

A unique carousel celebrating the history of the Battery as the first home of the New York Aquarium, which opened in 1896, is almost set to spin. After a decade of fundraising and construction, the Battery Conservancy issued an RFP (Request for Proposals) for the operation and maintenance of the SeaGlass Carousel along with food and merchandise carts in Manhattan’s Battery Park. There will be a recommended proposer meeting on March 11, with a due date for proposals on April 14th. To download the RFP, visit http://www.thebattery.org.

Designed to simulate a dive to the bottom of the sea, the carousel features iridescent fish set on four moving turntables within a nautilus shell structure. “Combined with swivel and the up-and-down motions of the fish mounted on these turntables, these various systems generate up to 25 axes of motion…swimming indeed,” according to the RFP.

SeaGlass Carousel was conceived and designed by WXY Architecture + Urban Design and their engineering teams, George Tsypin Opera Factory and Show Canada. The $16 million dollar project was funded with a combination of public and private funds.

Upon the opening of the carousel in 2014 and the Battery Garden Bikeway in 2015, over 90% of the park’s rebuilding will be complete. One of New York’s oldest parks, dating back to 1693, Battery Park was once home to the New York Aquarium, which was located in Castle Clinton from 1896 until 1941. The SeaGlass Carousel is expected to operate 7 days a week, year-round.

The Battery Conservancy’s original vision for the park’s redo included working with the New York Aquarium at Coney Island to develop a ferry link from the Battery waterfront to a dock near the aquarium. In 2007, then City Councilman Alan Gerson, whose district included Battery Park, told the New York Sun, “I would like to get the job done during the next fiscal year, especially now that Coney Island is being rebuilt.”

The NYCEDC commissioned a Coney Island Ferry Feasibility Study focusing on three potential ferry pier locations to be built or refurbished in Coney Island: Steeplechase Pier, West 8th Street and a location in Coney Island Creek, but Coney Island was not among the prioritized sites in the NYCEDC’s 2013 Citywide Ferry Study. Friends of Coney Island Creek Ferry Landing + Park, a group advocating for a recreational ferry link between Coney Island and The Battery, held a test run last June.

UPDATE August 19, 2015:

Ten years in the making, the much-anticipated SeaGlass Carousel at Battery Park will open to the public on Thursday, August 20th, from 1pm till midnight. NY Carousel was selected to operate the ride. ATZ’s report, including photos and video of the carousel’s inaugural spin at yesterday’s press preview, is here.

New York Aquarium in Castle Clinton

May 31, 1934 aerial image of the New York Aquarium, then located at Castle Clinton in Battery Park, during a Navy visit to New York City. Photo via NYC Parks Department

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Jimmy McCullough

Jimmy McCullough. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project flickr

Jimmy McCullough, whose family has operated amusements in Coney Island for four generations, passed away at his home on August 19.

Born in 1929, Jimmy McCullough grew up in Long Island and began working in Coney during World War II in one of the 22 shooting galleries then owned by his grandfather, he told historian Charles Denson in an interview for the Coney Island History Project’s Oral History Archive. He recalled working long hours–until 3, 4, or 5 o’clock in the morning at the family’s amusement attractions.

“Coney Island was the center of our world,” said McCullough, whose great-grandfather was George C Tilyou of Steeplechase Park and whose mother was a Stubbman, a family who operated a beer garden, hotel and carousel where the Aquarium is now.

Jimmy McCullough was also a traveling showman. Along with his daughters Carol and Nancy, he owned and operated such rides as one of the first Zippers ever manufactured, the Round-Up and the Skywheel, which they brought to Toronto’s CNE and booked into fairs as independent ride operators.

Last September, ATZ wrote about the McCullough family’s history in Coney Island when their 50-year-old kiddie park at the Bowery and 12th Street closed after a lease renewal with Thor Equities fell through. The lot has stood vacant ever since Coney Island’s oldest ride operator tore down his Herschell carousel and kiddie rides and left.

Carousel

1912 Charles Carmel Carousel operated by the McCullough family in Coney Island until 1952, when it was moved to Prospect Park. Photo via Coney Island History Project flickr

In the 1950s, the McCullough family had Kiddielands at Surf Avenue and 15th Street and Surf Avenue and 8th Street next to the Cyclone. They also owned and operated three historic carousels in Coney Island which are now in City parks and are their lasting legacy to the people of New York.

The 1912 carousel carved by Charles Carmel, which was at 8th Street, became the Prospect Park Carousel in 1952. The Stubbman Carousel, known as the Steeplechase Carousel when the McCulloughs operated it at 16th Street and the Boardwalk, was sent to the New York World’s Fair in 1964 along with some horses from Feltman’s and still operates in Flushing Meadows Park.

The third is the B&B, the last hand-carved wooden carousel in Coney Island, which Jimmy McCullough sold to the City in 2005 after the death of his business partner Mike Salzstein. The restored B&B Carousell opened with much fanfare in Coney Island’s new Steeplechase Plaza this year.

Services for Jimmy McCullough will be held at William E. Law Funeral Home, 1 Jerusalem Ave, Massapequa, NY on Thursday, August 22, 7-9PM and Friday, August 23, 2-4:30PM and 7-9PM. The funeral will be on Saturday, August 24, at 10AM at Maria Regina R.C. Church, 3945 Jerusalem Ave, Seaford, NY. Those wishing to make an expression of sympathy in his memory are asked to consider a donation to St. Jude’s Hospital or The Alzheimer’s Foundation.

Bumble Bee Ride

Bumble Bees and Herschell Carousel at McCullough’s Kiddie Park, Coney Island, September 3, 2012. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

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Illions Horse on the B&B Carousell, Coney Island

Illions Horse on the B&B Carousell, Coney Island Photo via Luna Park NYC Facebook

The lead horse on the beautifully restored and just reopened B&B Carousell is a rare steed. Sumptuous detailing on its trappings includes a relief of Abe Lincoln and the Coney Island carver‘s signature “Built by MC Illions.” According to carousel historian Marianne Stevens, the horse was carved in 1909, the same year the Lincoln penny was issued, in honor of the Centennial of Lincoln’s birth. It was one of four Lincoln horses carved by Illions for various carousels and the only one remaining on a working carousel. Stevens says the other jumper is on display at the New England Carousel Museum and the whereabouts of the two standers is unknown.

Lead Horse B & B Carousell

Lead Horse ‘Built by MC Illions’ on the B&B Carousell, Coney Island. May 24,2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

The horse is the only one of the B&B’s 50 horses carved by Illions, who developed the Coney Island style of carving. The rest are the work of Charles Carmel, another master carousel carver who also emigrated from Russia and worked in Brooklyn. How did the Illions horse come to be part of the B&B Carousell? It is thanks to Jimmy McCullough, whose family operated four historic carousels in Coney Island which are now in New York City’s parks.

One of them was the Stubbmann Carousel, known as the Steeplechase Carousel when the McCulloughs operated it at 16th Street and the Boardwalk. It was sent to the New York World’s Fair in 1964 along with some horses from Feltman’s and still operates in Flushing Meadows Park. When the Stubbman closed, James McCullough and his son Jimmy each chose a horse to keep, according to Stevens. Jimmy chose the Lincoln jumper which is now on the B&B, a carousel that he operated since the 1970s and sold to the City in 2005 after the death of his business partner Mike Saltzstein.

Illions Horse on the B&B Carousell

Illions Horse on the B&B Carousell, Coney Island Photo via Luna Park NYC Facebook

The other Coney Island carousels that are part of the McCullough legacy are the 1908 Stein and Goldstein Carousel brought to Central Park from the trolley terminal at W 5th and Surf Avenue and the 1912 Charles Carmel Carousel in Prospect Park that operated at 8th Street and Surf. Last year, McCullough’s Kiddie Park, the family’s last remaining business in Coney Island, closed after a 50 year run.

Thanks to Coney Island photographer Bruce Handy, and Luna Park, which operates the B&B Carousell in the new Steeplechase Plaza, for their photos of the MC Illions horse.

Lead Horse on B&B Carousell

Lead Horse ‘Built by MC Illions’ on the B&B Carousell, Coney Island. May 24, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

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