They couldn’t hold their horses any longer.
The federal government has listed Coney Island’s B&B Carousell on the National Register of Historic Places, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced on March 8. The city-owned carousel is now eligible for federal preservation money and tax credits — securing the future of Coney Island’s last remaining carousel, a senator who lobbied for the designation said.
“This designation is another national highlight of New York’s rich history and will help ensure that B&B Carousell remains a treasured site for future generations to enjoy and experience,” said Gillibrand, who penned a letter in February urging the National Parks Service to list the 110-year-old carousel.
Turn-of-the-century Coney Island carousel masters built every part of the B&B — the frame itself, its 50 horses, and the various artistic adornments, historians say. The exquisite equines are a living history lesson on the “Coney Island Style” of carving defined by flamboyance and whimsical themes, one of three main styles the National Carousel Association recognizes. Those carvers and craftsmen built dozens of carousels in the style that went to theme parks around the country last century.
They built the B&B in 1906 for a New Jersey amusement park, but it returned to its home about 25 years later when the Jersey park went out of business. The ride has served amusement-seekers at two Surf Avenue locations over the last 70 years.
In 2005, the owners shut it down and planned to sell it piece-by-piece, but the city bought the merry-go-round and sent restoration three years later. It returned in glorious fashion as a main attraction at Steeplechase Plaza in 2013, alongside a number of local attractions reopening that day in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
The news comes a month after officials announced the designation was just around the bend.
The B&B Carousell is the 169th site that the federal government has listed in the borough. Now preservationists can nominate it for national-landmark designation, the country’s highest historical honor.