Posts Tagged ‘Central Park Merry-Go-Round’

The hand-carved horses of Central Park

March 17, 2010

When the first carousel opened in brand-new Central Park in 1871, it was powered by a real horse and a blind mule, each walking in circles over and over again. Cost of a ticket: the princely sum of 10 cents.

Thankfully the carousel in place today runs on electricity. It’s been in the park since 1951, but it actually dates to 1908—when it enchanted kids at Coney Island before being retired in the 1940s.

It’s a magical piece of folk art. The 58 horses and two chariots were hand-carved and painted in the Williamsburg studio of Russian immigrants Sol Stein and Harry Goldstein.

“Their carousels were among the biggest ever built and featured large, angry, snarling horses,” reports the International Museum of Carousel Art.

“These horses appear to object to your presence and strain to be free of the carousel…free perhaps to run off to the nearest castle. Despite the forcefulness of these steeds, they are often festooned with flowers and other delicate decoration…the kind a lady might give to her knight before he went off to slay a dragon or do battle in her honor.”

The girl who loved Central Park’s pretty horses

September 23, 2009

Near the Central Park carousel is a child-size wood post featuring carvings of merry-go-round horses. They look like miniature versions of the hand-carved, painted horses on the circa-1908 carousel itself.


It’s an enchanting little post, a marker letting adults know that they’re about to enter the park’s kid territory.

MichellebernsteinBut near the bottom of the post is this somber plaque:

Michelle Bernstein
March 25, 1984 – June 19, 1987
The Carousel Landscape
was restored in 1991
in honour of Michelle
who loved
all the pretty little horses