Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Block Association Lauds Landmarking of Carousel

The Landmarks Preservation Commission voted today to designate the Forest Park Carousel a New York City landmark.  The Woodhaven Residents' Block Association wholeheartedly applauds this decision, which formally recognizes the carousel as the gem it is.

"This is tremendous news.  The Forest Park Carousel means so much to countless residents in Woodhaven and across the city.  This designation is long overdue, but now that it's here, we're thrilled," said WRBA President Edward K. Wendell.  "With the carousel landmarked, we know it will be around for posterity, which is exactly how it should be."

The WRBA submitted testimony to the Commission urging the designation.  The testimony, available here, points out that the carousel is a beautiful work of art, a historic specimen that embodies our community’s heritage, and a form of entertainment that has amused generations of Woodhaven residents.

"Even when I was a young boy, I knew the carousel was special.  I'm elated that the Landmarks Preservation Commission agrees," said Alex Blenkinsopp, the WRBA's communications director.  "The Landmarks Law is meant to safeguard our city's irreplaceable treasures.  In this case, the law worked exactly as it should.  The carousel is here to stay, and we couldn't be happier."

One of the many colorful creatures of the Forest Park Carousel.
The Forest Park Carousel features a colorful menagerie of
horses, tigers, and lions, including some of the last creations
hand-carved by artist Daniel Carl Muller over a century ago.
Experts have acclaimed it as a rare specimen.  It is also
decorated with beautiful paintings depicting settings in
Woodhaven and the rest of Queens.
The Block Association has a long track record of advocacy for the Forest Park Carousel.

The ride had been shuttered for years until last summer, when the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation inked a deal with a concessionaire to operate the carousel again.  The WRBA had fought hard to reopen the ride, taking such steps as working with our elected representatives, writing letters to city officials, petitioning, organizing rallies of support in-person and online, publicizing the cause in the media, and even creating a popular "Save the Forest Park Carousel" t-shirt.  With the Forest Park spinning again, the next logical step was to ensure it would be preserved through landmark status.

One of the WRBA's concerns was that the designation might unduly restrict the ability of the concessionaire, New York Carousel Entertainment, to operate and maintain the carousel.  But as described in the WRBA's testimony, these concerns were assuaged after New York Carousel Entertainment -- which has proved to be an excellent steward of the attraction -- met with the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

There are six operating carousels in New York City, according to the Commission.  The Forest Park Carousel became the city's third amusement ride to be independently landmarked.

The WRBA thanks its allies in the fight to landmark the carousel, including the Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society (which partnered with the WRBA on its testimony), the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation, and Council Member Elizabeth Crowley.

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WRBA office: (718) 296-3735