Posts Tagged ‘folk art’

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.”

Where was the Third Avenue Railroad Depot?

December 4, 2008

William H. Schenck painted this lovely red-brick structure in 1860; it’s part of the Met’s Edward W.C. Arnold Collection of New York Prints, Maps, and Pictures.

But where exactly was the Third Avenue Railroad Depot? A New York Times art review from 1999 suggests it stood between 65th and 66th Streets, where the massive Manhattan House condo-in-transition has been since 1950. On the other hand, an 1881 Times article mentions a Third Avenue Railroad Depot at 130th Street. 

railroaddepot

Wherever it stood, the depot was the site of some bizarre accidents, such as this one written up in the Times on October 19, 1871:

“Robert Bannon, thirty-five years of age, died at St. Luke’s Hospital, yesterday, by injuries he received from a roller falling on his head from the roof of the Third Avenue Railroad Depot.”

And then, on February 18, 1881:

“A serious affray occurred yesterday afternoon in the neighborhood of the Third-Avenue Railroad Depot at One Hundred and Thirtieth Street, during which one man was shot and the other was struck on the head by a stone and dangerously, if not fatally, injured.”

Yep, they were drunk at the time.