For over a century, the carousel in Forest Park has been part of growing up in Woodhaven, Glendale, Ridgewood and many of the nearby neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn.
In many families, several generations have fond memories of riding on the carousel, and have passed on the tradition by taking their own children or grandchildren for their first ride.
A few summers ago, the operators of the carousel added the Woodhaven Express Train. Last summer, they introduced the Frog Hopper to Forest Park. So with a few rides to choose from, along with a basketball shootout and a ring-toss game, it has been transformed into a mini-amusement park.
And so, while the carousel itself will always be known as the Forest Park Carousel, the entire site is now called the “Forest Park Carousel Amusement Village,” and it officially opened its gates for 2021 on weekends…for now. Understandably a soft open after the past year.
We were very fortunate the day that New York Carousel Entertainment was selected to be the stewards of our historic carousel’s future. They have been committed to the growth and well being of the carousel site, while at the same time remaining reverent of the carousel’s past and the feelings that the people of Woodhaven have for it.
Artistically, the Forest Park Carousel is particularly notable as it was the handiwork of the legendary master carver Daniel Muller. Muller came to the United States from Germany as a child in the 1880s. As a young man, he and his brother worked for Gustav Dentzel, a renowned carousel builder in his own right.
Dentzel’s father built carousels in Germany going back to the mid-18th century. Muller took advantage of the opportunity to learn all of these old-world skills from Dentzel, and blended it with his own realistic style to carve out a name for himself. In 1903, D.C. Muller and Bro. Company was founded.
Muller’s carvings were notable for being very beautiful and realistic. In some cases, the carvings were militaristic, with horses sporting bugles, swords and canteens.
Over 14 years, D.C. Muller and Bro. created over a dozen carousels but, sadly, today only two remain: one in Cedar Point, Ohio, and the one right here in Forest Park.
The Forest Park Carousel contains three rows of carvings. The outer row contains 13 standing horses, three menagerie animals and two chariots. The inner two rows each contain 18 jumping horses for a total of 36.
While the Forest Park Carousel is often referred to as a Muller carousel, you will also find a few carvings from Dentzel and Charles Carmel, another notable carousel artist of the same era, on the inner two rows.
The Forest Park Carousel recently underwent a major overhaul. Many of the century-old gears and bearings were carefully replaced, a repair job that took months and required that the carousel be taken completely apart piece by piece.
“We did this so it can run for another 100 years in this very spot,” says David Galst, managing director of New York Carousel. “We know that people are very protective of this carousel, and we want it to last forever.”
The Forest Park Carousel has also established themselves as a friendly partner in the community, working with several charitable groups and organizations, including the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society.
We came so close to losing this carousel a few years ago. It’s mind-boggling to think of how lucky we’ve been and how good this has turned out. So it’s on all of us to support this great New York City Landmark this summer to make sure that it stays healthy and sticks around for another century for future residents of Woodhaven to enjoy.