In DUMBO, Brooklyn, a place where industrial architecture meets innovative creativity, a century-old carousel spins stories of a time gone by. This is the tale of Jane's Carousel, a gem amongst the myriad things to do in Brooklyn.
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Gazing at the vibrant prancing horses and gilded chariots against the backdrop of the East River, it's hard to imagine that this carousel's roots lie not here, but in Youngstown, Ohio.
Our story begins with the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, one of the premier carousel manufacturers in the early 1920s. It was they who crafted the carousel you see today, a manifestation of what was a relatively new, steam-powered invention dating back to 1861 England.
Fast forward six decades to 1984, when this once vibrant carousel, now faded and fire-damaged, caught the eye of David and Jane Walentas. As pioneers in the redevelopment of DUMBO, the couple had a vision for their new neighborhood, one that included the charm and whimsy of a historic carousel. Jane Walentas took on the Herculean task of restoring the carousel, meticulously bringing back to life its original carvings over the course of two decades.
In 2011, this labor of love was unveiled to the public. Nestled in Empire Fulton Ferry Park, the carousel, now known as Jane's Carousel, invites visitors to take a journey into history. Above Jane's Carousel looms the grandeur of the Brooklyn Bridge. This architectural marvel, completed in 1883, serves as a testament to human ingenuity and a stunning backdrop to this enchanting ride.
So, as you seek out what to do in Brooklyn, let your journey take you to Jane's Carousel. Here, amongst the laughter of children and the echoing melodies of old, you'll discover a piece of history spinning with the rhythm of DUMBO's beating heart.
Many more Brooklyn stories and New York City tours await. Discover more local history with our New York audio walking tours, and see which nearby New York City neighborhoods you want to explore next!