Historic Coney carousel will return to new Steeplechase Plaza

The historic B&B Carousel will be the main attraction at Steeplechase Plaza in Coney Island once the city finishes upgrading the 2.2-acre site in 2013.
Photo by Matthew Nedbalsky

An historic Coney Island carousel is coming out of retirement.

The B&B Carousell will reopen inside of Steeplechase Plaza, an under-construction $29.5-million plaza that city officials say will open to the public in 2013 on a 2.2-acre parcel of land adjacent to MCU Park and beneath the landmark Parachute Jump.

The Parachute Jump, which moved to Coney after being used to attract people to Queens, a neighboring borough, for 1939 World’s Fair, will remain defunct.

But longtime Coney residents said they were thrilled that the carousel would reopen on the city-owned portion of the former Steeplechase Park.

“I have fond memories of riding the carousel as a child,” said Rob Burstein. “I’m excited to see what the plaza will look like.”

The city says riders will enter the plaza from the Boardwalk by passing beneath the 262-foot-tall ride, getting a close-up views of the tower. The plaza will also feature a food stand and shaded area — but the main draw will be the merry-go-round.

The 50-horse carousel was carved by Charles Carmel and Marcus Charles Illions and assembled in Coney Island. It opened in 1932 on Surf Avenue near W. 10th Street and stayed there until its owners shut down the ride six years ago and put the machine up for sale.

The Bloomberg Administration bought the antique for $1.8-million the day before it was scheduled to be auctioned off, and promised to bring it out of storage and get it spinning again as part of the city’s makeover of the People’s Playground.

The Parks Department has issued a request for proposals to find a vendor to run the carousel and food concession in the plaza.

“This new open space will serve as an important link to Coney’s past and a symbol of [the neighborhood’s] future,” said Seth Pinsky, the president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

The B&B Carousel isn’t the only old-time merry-go-round that’s grabbed headlines in Brooklyn this fall.

In September, a lovingly-restored 1920s-era carousel was unveiled in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Reach reporter Daniel Bush at dbush@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow him at twitter.com/dan_bush.

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