Tired of riding in circles?

Tired of riding in circles

I’m sure that many of you, like me, couldn’t get enough carousel rides. In our imaginations, those horses took us on wonderful adventures, no longer tethered by their poles and always accompanied by cheerful music. Of course, I only rode the “jumpers” (the standing horses were for babies), and we traveled great distances during those three and a half minutes of bliss. I never got tired of riding in circles, because my horse was free.

Central Park Carousel park
The horses of the carousel are being restored, one by one.

“My” carousel was the one in New York’s Central Park, a fixture in the park since 1871, this is actually the fourth version of the popular ride. The original Carousel was powered by a live horse, or mule, which was was hidden beneath the Carousel platform in a pit and trained to stop and go when the operator stomped his boot on the carousel floor. The mules were replaced by a steam power in 1912.

The new Carousel was destroyed by a fire in 1924, as was its replacement in 1950.

The Central Park Carousel when it re-opened in 1951. Rides were free on the opening day. Shown here is Mayor Impellitteri riding a Chestnut charger – photo NYPL collection

The current Carousel was found abandoned in an old trolley terminal on Coney Island. It had been crafted by Stein & Goldstein in 1908 (amazing that it wasn’t destroyed). It has 57 horses — 52 jumpers, 5 standing horses, and two Chariots. It was installed in 1951 and when I started riding it, in the mid 1960s. I thought it the most magnificent ride in the world.

Of course, a ride on the Central Park Carousel now costs $3.25 for each 3 1/2 minute ride, but they are still glorious minutes.


3 thoughts on “Tired of riding in circles?

  1. I also had to ride the Central Park carousel when I visited NY, so fun! Here on the west coast I love the carousel at Santa Cruz Beach boardwalk (carved by Looff in 1911)…the outside ponies are mostly jumpers, and you can also grab a ring and try to throw it in a (terrifying) clown mouth! I’m usually the only adult on the ride when we go, and I don’t care, everyone should be young enough at heart!

  2. I’ve not been on a carousel in years, but I will ride one when I can find one. I don’t give a damn if someone out there thinks, isn’t she a bit old to be on that ride? Yeah, maybe so, but I’m having fun. And I prefer the animated jumpers, too. The standing ones are a bit…sedate…

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