01.24.21: Bridge and carousel

Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park with lower Manhattan in background, New York City.

Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park with lower Manhattan in background, New York City.

Photographing a ride but getting much more

One of the things my wife and I enjoy doing when visiting New York City is walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, if we can do it on a day when thousands of other people aren’t walking the bridge at the same time. On the crowded days, it’s no longer a walk. It’s more of a group shove. If you lift both feet you can get carried across the bridge by the crush of walkers.

But once we reach the Brooklyn side, our walk becomes even more enjoyable. We can grab lunch at Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, the famous — and very popular — pizza shop under the bridge, or a snack from a nearby ice cream shop or the numerous carts. And we can enjoy views of Lower Manhattan across the East River from Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Since 2011 the park has been home to Jane’s Carousel, a nearly 100-year-old ride with hand-carved horses.

When we walked past the carousel during a visit in 2015 I thought a photo of it with the Brooklyn Bridge and skyline in the background might make an interesting shot, showing a contrast between a playground ride and a city scene. But I didn’t realize how many individual micro-scenes I had captured until I saw the photo on the computer.

First, there’s the man on the right standing beside a stroller and holding a baby girl. He’s showing her the carousel, which was turning and playing music, and perhaps preparing to take her for a ride. She’s laughing.

To his right, toward the center of the photo, is a man sitting on a bench talking to his beagle. The carousel provided a convenient place to rest while on an early afternoon walk.

In front of the man and dog is another man, carrying a green bag, attempting to take a photo of the Brooklyn Bridge with his phone. It’s a scene likely repeated hundreds of times a day from that spot in the park.

And in front of him, closer to the river, is a teenage boy with a yellow backpack talking to an older woman as they sit on a step overlooking the river.

I liked the photo. But I liked the small individual scenes even more.  They are like separate chapters of the photo’s bigger story.

The carousel has its own story.

Jane's Carousel (formerly known as the Idora Park Merry-Go-Round) is a carved, wooden, 48-horse carousel built in 1922 for the Idora Park amusement park in Youngstown, Ohio. When Idora Park closed in 1984, the carousel was auctioned. The park owners first took bids on the individual horses, then a bid for the entire carousel. They accepted a bid of $385,000 for the entire carousel from David Walentas, a real estate developer, and Jane Walentas, a former art director for Estee Lauder, which allowed all the horses to stay together.

David Walentas had planned to locate the carousel, after a lengthy refurbishing, at a new development in Brooklyn, but that project fell through in 1999. Jane Walentas reached an agreement for the carousel to have a permanent home in Brooklyn Bridge Park and paid a $500,000 fee for a pavilion to house it. The carousel opened to the public, after 27 years of extensive renovation, on Sept. 16, 2011, and has become a destination.

I liked the photo. But I liked the small individual scenes even more.  They are like separate chapters of the photo’s bigger story.

Tech specs

  • Date/time: Sep 5, 2015 1:32 PM   
  • Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II
  • Lens: EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM 
  • Focal length: 29mm
  • Aperture: f/8
  • Shutter: 1/250 second
  • ISO: 320