The B&B Carousell
Carousels were incredibly popular at the turn of the century. Coney Island alone had roughly two dozen in 1905. Many of the thousands across the US were made in Brooklyn.
The B&B Carousell is special because it combines the work of three of the best carousel craftsmen: William Mangels, Charles Carmel and Marcus Illions.
Mangels was legendary in the amusements field and had a large workshop at Coney Island that made everything from roller coasters to carousels. He perfected the mechanism that allows carousel horses go up and down smoothly (1907), and also invented the Whip, better known as the teacup ride (1914). He made the B&B's mechanism in 1906.
Carmel and Illions were two renowned carousel figure carvers also based out of Brooklyn. They pioneered the "Coney Island style" of horses that you see on the B&B, in which horses have very animated expressions and wind-blown manes that frequently are painted gold for emphasis. All of the horses currently on the B&B Carousell were carved by Carmel in the 1920s with the exception of the lead horse, which Illions carved. This unusual mix-and-match of carvers results from the carousel's prior owner wanting to keep an original Carmel horse before selling the carousel.
A few things to know to appreciate the B&B Carousell:
Every carousel has a lead horse. It's easy to spot because it will be the fanciest horse in the outer row. The B&B's lead horse is one of the nicest carousel figures in the world. Illions carved it in 1909 to commemorate Abraham Lincoln's 100th birthday. Illions was so proud of it that he carved his name into it, which he only did on pieces he personally considered to represent his finest work.
Look at both sides of each horse. Carvers saved time by only making the outer-facing side fancy. It is called the romance side.
Why is the B&B an all-horse carousel? Some earlier carousels tried adding other animals like lions, pigs, frogs and even mythical creatures. Carmel was more of a purist and stuck to horses almost exclusively. It turns out that children preferred horses to sea monsters anyways, so it was the right business move, too.
Carousels today revolve much more slowly than they used to for insurance reasons. People were much more accepting of hazards back then and liked a good buzz.
Lastly, remember that proper Victorian ladies should ride the horses side-saddle. The most modest of them may prefer the B&B's chariots. Sitting prevents the risk of a lady potentially exposing her ankles to gentlemen from underneath her full-length dress, which could happen while riding a horse.
Return to Tourist Info