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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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Related posts on ATZ…

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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