A year after carousel operator New York One LLC abandoned the Queens Forest Park merry-go-round, claiming there wasn’t enough foot traffic, the Parks Department has terminated their contract to run the famed Central Park Carousel. They told the NY Post the operator has failed to maintain and clean the ride up to their standards. The company will be out by today, and they may not have anyone else to run it for another month.
The Post also reports the particulars of running the legendary amusement attraction – the ride costs $2 and takes in just under $200K a year. There’s a $7,500 concession fee the operator need to pay in order to run it. It’s not running when the temperature falls under 32 degrees. And one man, Sal Napolitano, has worked in various positions at the ride for 39 years; he says that Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis once asked if she needed to pay to watch her children go ’round.
The original park carousel opened in 1871 and was powered by a blind mule and a horse who walked a treadmill in an underground pit. It almost immediately became one of the park’s most popular attractions and remains so to this day, with almost 250,000 riders a year. Originally the park commissioners had frowned upon commercial enterprises in the Park, but they eventually saw the popular attractions as valuable assets. They also recognized income that the city earned on the carousel’s operation as a welcome source of needed revenue.
The current carousel, the fourth to exist on this site, was built in 1951 thanks to a contribution by the Michael Firedsam Foundation. It was discovered after an exhaustive search by the Parks Department, abandoned in an old trolley terminal on Coney Island. One of the country’s largest merry-go-rounds, it features fifty-eight hand-carved, brightly caparisoned horses and two ornate chariots. Wonderful examples of folk art, they were made by Solomon Stein and Harry Goldstein in 1908.