The century-old Forest Park carousel in Forest Park continues to spin, but it now bears a new plaque signifying its special landmark status.
Civic leaders and residents of Queens gathered in Woodhaven at the carousel Monday to celebrate the decision by the city Landmarks Preservation Commission to landmark the ride.
The special status means a property has historical, cultural or aesthetic value and is an important part of the city’s heritage. The designation also means the carousel is required to be kept in good condition and the commission must approve any alteration, reconstruction, demolition or new construction that could affect it.
After a years-long battle waged by the community to landmark the attraction, which nvolved two public hearings, the commission voted unanimously in June to landmark it.
The original carousel in Forest Park was burned in a fire in 1966. In 1973, it was replaced with the current merry-go-round, which had previously been in Massachusetts.
The new carousel, often referred to as the “Jewel of Forest Park,” was hand-carved by famed artist and carousel maker D.C. Muller in 1903. It is one of only two intact D.C. Muller carousels in existence.
In 2009, it was shuttered by its previous operator, leading some in the community to believe they would lose the attraction altogether. But three years later, a new vendor, N.Y. Carousel Entertainment, took over and had the carousel spinning again.
Maria Thomson and the Greater Woodhaven Development Corp. were credited with getting the carousel landmarked.
Thomson described a meeting she had 25 years ago with the political leaders in the community.
“At that time we realized the only way to preserve and protect our carousel would be to continue to try to get it landmarked,” she said. “Many stated that it would never happen. But we had faith. Today is the proof that that faith has been rewarded.”
City Comptroller John Liu said the landmarking is important for children and adults alike.
“That’s what landmarking is all about,” he said. “It’s about our identity, it’s about our roots. It’s not just about nostalgia and the good old days. It’s about who we are.”
He said the carousel adds to the diversity of Queens’ identity.
David Galst, director of operations for N.Y. Carousel, said more than 70,000 people have taken on a spin on the carousel.
It was rated the country’s second-most magical carousel by Fox News, Galst said. It was also recognized as one of the 10 great carousels by USA Today.
Reach reporter Bianca Fortis by email at bfortis@cn
©2013 Community News Group
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