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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.

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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January 20, 2014: Amusement Park Operators Eye Return to Staten Island Beachfront

August 22, 2013: In Memoriam: Carousel & Amusement Park Operator Jimmy McCullough

May 26, 2013: A Portrait of Abe Lincoln on Coney Island’s B&B Carousell

December 8, 2010: Children’s Book Tells Coney Island Carousel Carver’s Story

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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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January 7, 2013: Photo Album: Pieces of Coney Island Skyline in December

September 4, 2012: Exclusive: McCullough’s Kiddie Park Closing After 50 Years in Coney Island

June 14, 2011: Coney Island Kiddie Park Getting Squeezed by Thor Equities

June 3, 2009: Coney Island Rides: Tug Boat and Carousel in McCullough’s Kiddie Park

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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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May 24, 2013: Photo Album: B&B Carousell’s Showy Letters Go Up

April 24, 2013: Photo Album: Coney Island April 2013 Construction Update

September 4, 2012: Exclusive: McCullough’s Kiddie Park Closing After 50 Years in Coney Island

December 4, 2011: Brass Ring Dept: Coney Island “Carousell” RFP Up for Grabs

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B&B Carousell Letter

B&B Carousell Letter Being Raised Into Place. May 23, 2013. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project flickr

The large-scale neon letters spelling B & B CAROUSELL with a double L, of course, went up on the historic ride’s new pavilion on the Boardwalk today. Charles Denson of the Coney Island History Project happened to be there to take this spectacular series of photographs. On Friday morning, the grand opening of Steeplechase Plaza and the return of the 1919 carousel to Coney Island will be celebrated by Mayor Bloomberg and other elected officials, local residents and invited guests. The carousel was saved from the auction block in 2005, when the Mayor came to Coney Island for a hastily arranged press conference to announce the City would purchase the ride for $1.8 million.

B&B Carousell Letter

B&B Carousell Letter Being Raised Into Place. May 23, 2013. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project flickr

“Dozens of carousels have left Coney Island forever but the B&B Carousell is the only one to actually leave and come back,” said Denson, when the first restored horse was exhibited last May at the Coney Island History Project. B&B is short for Bishoff and Brienstein, who brought the carousel back home to Coney Island from New Jersey’s Bertrand Island in 1932. The frame was the work of Coney’s William F. Mangels Carousell Works and the carvings were done by Charles Carmel except for the lead horse by M.C. Illions. Jimmy McCullough and Mike Saltzstein owned and operated the ride since the 1970s. Welcome home to the B&B!

B&B Carousell Pavilion

B&B Carousell Pavilion. May 23, 2013. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project flickr

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May 26, 2013: A Portrait of Abe Lincoln on Coney Island’s B&B Carousell

April 24, 2013: Photo Album: Coney Island April 2013 Construction Update

December 4, 2011: Brass Ring Dept: Coney Island “Carousell” RFP Up for Grabs

February 1, 2011: Bring Back the Whip! A Birthday Gift for William F Mangels

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Kiddie Ferris Wheel

Kiddie Ferris Wheel at McCullough’s Kiddie Park, Coney Island. June 14, 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Black Friday is here and it’s time to shop for toys to put under the Christmas tree. If the tree is growing in your backyard, a kiddie ride would fit just fine though you’d better check zoning regulations. Generations of kids have grown up riding this little Ferris Wheel at McCullough’s Kiddie Park on the Bowery at West 12th Street in Coney Island, but now it’s for sale. As previously reported by ATZ, the family-owned park closed in September after fifty years when the owners weren’t able to come to a lease agreement with property owner Thor Equities. The park’s rides are being offered for sale by usedrides.com. The Wheel is ten grand and the much-photographed Bumblebees are $42,000. Among the other rides are a Mini-Himalaya ($17,000), Alan Herschell Carousel ($50,000) and Zamperla Rockin’ Tug ($42,000). The rides were moved to the broker’s lot in Greer, South Carolina.

Although McCullough’s Kiddie Park has operated on 12th Street since the 1960s, the family’s history in Coney Island goes back much further. Four generations of McCulloughs have owned and operated amusement rides here. They are related to the Tilyou family of Steeplechase Park as well as to the Stubbmann family, whose Coney Island carousel became part of the one in Flushing Meadows. The McCulloughs are also the former owners of the B&B Carousell, which will reopen in Coney Island’s new Steeplechase Plaza next year. It’s sad that McCullough’s is closing and that Coney is losing another indie operator. They will be missed and so will their bees. But Coney Island isn’t losing all of its kiddie rides: Deno’s Kiddie Park on the Boardwalk has 17 rides for children, including the beloved Mangels Pony Cart and Fire Engine, and will reopen in the spring.

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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September 4, 2012: Exclusive: McCullough’s Kiddie Park Closing After 50 Years in Coney Island

May 18, 2012: Rare & Vintage: Pinto Bros. Pony Cart from Coney Island

June 8, 2009: Coney Island Rides: Tug Boat and Carousel in McCullough’s Kiddie Park

May 21, 2009: Astroland Closed But Your Kid Can Still Ride the USS Astroland This Summer!

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B&B Carousell

The B&B Carousell’s first restored horse returns to Coney Island! Photo © Coney Island History Project via flickr

This sweet pony, the first restored horse from the B&B Carousell, looks happy to be back in Coney Island! What’s his or her name? That will be up to the popular vote on Facebook. At the moment “Cotton Candy” and “Ravishing Ruby” are the front runners. “Home Sweet Home,” “Thunderbolt,” “Tornado,” and “In Memory of Mike Saltzstein,” who operated the carousel for decades, are some of the other suggested names.

There’s also “William,” for the carousel’s builder William F Mangels, and “Marcus,” for Marcus Illions, the carver of the lead horse. This horse, as well as the others, was carved by Charles Carmel.

The name “Ravishing Ruby” is being championed by Brooklyn-born actress Annabella Sciorra, who writes on her Facebook page: “They’re looking to name the first restored carousel horse in Coney Island. If you like my page please vote for the name ‘Ravishing Ruby’ after one of my best friends who grew up on the beaches of Coney Island!!” Ravishing Ruby is also the title of a country song from the ’70s! Our guess is that some who are voting for the name are associating it with Coney’s beloved Ruby’s Bar and Grill.

“Cotton Candy” is a cute choice, but please be advised if it wins that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to bring actual cotton candy on the ride.

Inspired by the creative names of the horses at the Kentucky Derby, which was run yesterday, ATZ’s choice is “Home Sweet Home.” We think it’s the perfect name since this B&B horse is the first to come home to Coney from Ohio, where the carousel has been undergoing restoration, after an absence of seven years. Go, Go, Go, Home Sweet Home!

As for “Mikey” or “In Memory of Mike Saltzstein,” we agree with a commenter on the voting page who writes: “May the last horse in be named ‘In Memory of Mike Saltzstein.’ Mike kept those horses going … God rest his soul.”

Today is the second and final day of the B&B Carousell Open House presented by the City’s Economic Development Corporation at the Coney Island History Project, where you can get your picture taken with the horse and cast your vote in person. If you live too far away to visit, you can still vote on Facebook to name the horse.

The B&B Carousell is also in a very competitive online horse race with 40 historic properties for a share of $3 million from Partners in Preservation. New Yorkers as well as anyone who loves New York may cast one vote daily on the Partners in Preservation New York City website or via Facebook, smartphone or tablet.

UPDATE May 7, 2012:

Congratulations to Dano Panariello, who suggested the name “Ravishing Ruby” in honor of his mother! The Open House and the naming contest are over, but everybody please remember to vote for the B&B Carousell every day thru May 21 at Partners in Preservation, where it is in a horse race to win a grant.

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B & B Carousell

B & B Carousell, Coney Island. August 2005. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Last night the Empire State Building was lit up blue and white in honor of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It was a prelude to this morning’s announcement that New York City has been selected as the location for Partners in Preservation 2012. American Express, in partnership with the National Trust, will award $3 million to preserve historic places in New York City. Coney Island’s B & B Carousell is one of 40 competitors vying for your online vote.

From April 26 through May 21, New Yorkers as well as anyone who loves New York may cast one vote daily on the Partners in Preservation New York City website or via Facebook, smartphone or tablet. According to the initiative’s press release, the top four vote-getters, to be announced May 22, are guaranteed to receive grants for their preservation projects. A Partners in Preservation advisory committee of community and preservation leaders will select sites that will receive the rest of the $3 million in grants.

On May 5 and 6, the Coney Island History Project is hosting a “B & B Carousell Open House” where the first restored horse will be on display along with photos of the restoration process and archival images of the carousel. The historic carousel was saved from auction in 2005 when the City purchased it for $1.8 million. The 1919 ride was packed up and moved from its longtime location on the north side of Surf Avenue and sent to Carousels & Carvings in Ohio for restoration.

The Partners in Preservation grant would fund transport and assembly from the restoration in Ohio back to New York. In 2013, the B & B will reopen in a new pavilion next to the Parachute Jump.

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December 4, 2011: Brass Ring Dept: Coney Island “Carousell” RFP Up for Grabs

February 1, 2011: Bring Back the Whip! A Birthday Gift for William F Mangels

December 8, 2010: Children’s Book Tells Coney Island Carousel Carver’s Story

February 26, 2010: Made in Brooklyn: The World’s Only Jet-Powered Merry-Go-Round

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