Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Trip to Coney

At first glance, it looks like a Coney Island bathing beauties shot from the early 1900s. The subjects' legs are crossed, hands neatly folded in their laps, and a few even have demure smiles for the camera. And of course, the lady suits. Men's bathing suits never drape that well.

But then you begin to notice the brawn - slouchy postures, broad shoulders, short hair, and square jaws that are sort of smirking, not so much smiling. Coney Island has a rich history, most of it revolving around fun, the having and creating of. Perhaps they were preparing for the annual Mermaid Parade, or just experimenting. Adolescence is tricky for everyone.

Another notable feature is the half moon, an image ubiquitous with Coney Island, perhaps because it is the location in Gravesend Bay where explorer Henry Hudson's ship the "Half Moon" docked on it's way to Asia. Or, because of the Half Moon Hotel, which you can read more about here and here. Also, in 1933, the popular song "It's Only a Paper Moon" was written, and over the years has been used and/or covered by just about everybody.

Parade of Horses

This post also appears on the Bryant Park blog.

Before the Bryant Park Carousel was installed in June 2002, the 40th street allée next to the Goethe statue was peaceful, but obviously missing something. Seeking to enhance the French classical design of the park grounds, create a family friendly atmosphere, and complement the neighboring Beaux Arts façade of the New York Public Library, the Bryant Park Corporation added Le Carrousel to the barren space.

Before Le Carrousel was installed in the park, along the 40th Street allee

Le Carrousel was designed and manufactured by Marvin Sylvor‘s Fabricon Carousel Company in Brooklyn, and installed in the park in early June 2002. Mr. Sylvor was internationally recognized, and had built carousels all over the world. He passed away in 2008.

Carousel installation, late May 2002

The menagerie in Fabricon's studio awaiting transport to the park

In addition to its colorful menagerie of animals, which include a deer, a rabbit, a cat, and ten horses, Le Carrousel also features a fully restored ticket booth, originally built in 1928 for a carousel in Hull Massachusetts.

The Bryant Park carousel ticket booth, mid-restoration in Fabricon's studio

A parade of horses on the south side of the park

Bryant Park hospitality staff lead the animals to their new home

The Bryant Park carousel measures 22 feet wide, weighs 12,000 pounds, and spins to the sounds of French Cabaret music. Just a month after the carousel opened, on July 31, 2002, a naming ceremony was held for the lead horse “Granny’s Folly.” The horse was named after a mounted police steed that had served the NYPD since 1984. He was struck by a livery cab on Pelham Parkway in 1992.

Le Carrousel's lead horse Granny's Folly

Named after one of his riders, Sergeant Grannville Waterman, the horse was famed for stepping on a mugger's foot, preventing his escape outside of Madison Square Garden during a Michael Jackson concert.
Just last summer, seven years after the carousel opened, it underwent a full restoration by artist Andrew Tedesco