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Archive for May, 2013

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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The Wheel House is a delightful diversion from today’s rainy start to the Memorial Day weekend. UK-based circus theater Acrojou’s rolling house is powered by actors who call to mind the folksong “I’m away with the raggle taggle gypsy-o!” Architizer calls it “A Wheel-Shaped Mobile Home For Acrobats.” The troupe has performed The Wheel House in Ireland, Holland, France, Belgium, Spain and Israel, and in the Piccadilly Circus Circus at the 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

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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

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