Tag Archives: Landmark Preservation Commission

Forest Park Carousel becomes official landmark


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Johann Hamilton

The century-old Forest Park Carousel will be ridden for many generations to come now that it is an official New York City landmark.

The Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC) made the classic Woodhaven ride a city treasure and ensured its preservation with a unanimous 8-0 vote on Tuesday, June 25.

“This designation is long overdue, but now that it’s here, we’re thrilled,” said Edward Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association. The association is one of the groups that have been fighting to get the carousel landmarked.

“With the carousel landmarked, we know it will be around for posterity, which is exactly how it should be.”
The carousel was shuttered from 2008 to 2012. Last year, New York Carousel Entertainment LLC, which also owns the carousel in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, decided to buy and revitalize it.

The carousel joins a small group of landmarked rides operating in the city. The other two are the Cyclone roller coaster and Deno’s Wonder Wheel in Coney Island.

“This is great news,” said Shirley Sullivan, a local resident. “I actually thought the carousel was a landmark all along. I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be.”

But not all residents felt the same way as Sullivan.

“I know it’s been here for a while and everyone loves it and it has a lot of history,” said Mathis Johnston. “But I think the title of landmark should be saved for things with actual historical significance, not just things that have been around for a long time.”

The carousel was crafted in 1910 by master carver Daniel Carl Muller. In 1973, it was brought to Forest Park. The ride features vibrant horses, lions and tigers and paintings depicting settings in Woodhaven and other parts of Queens.

“Designating the Forest Park Carousel is a tremendous win for our community that once feared it may never spin again,” said Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, who lobbied LPC to designate the carousel. “Preserving our history strengthens our neighborhoods.”

 

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Game’s still on at West Side Tennis Club


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Shamanth Rao

BY SHAMANTH RAO

The rhythmic thwacks of tennis balls hit by wooden rackets resounded once again across the grass courts at the West Side Tennis Club on a recent Saturday morning amid the rumble of the occasional passing Long Island Railroad train.

Some 35 years after the U.S. Open ended its six-decade run at the fabled Forest Hills tennis haven, players took to the courts on August 18 for the first edition of the Evian Wood Racquet Cup. The event, which came just over a week before the start of the U.S. Open in Flushing, marked part of an effort to revive tennis at the historic venue with everything from new tournaments to lessons for children.

“This event is a great way to remember the past in a relaxed and fun way,” said Jason Zone Fisher, who was master of ceremonies for the Evian Cup.

The member-owned West Side Tennis Club is a long way from its heyday, which ended with the United State Tennis Association’s decision to move the Open to a more modern facility in Flushing Meadows in 1978, a year after Guillermo Vilas and Chris Evert won the event. The Club stayed alive by hosting the Tournament of Champions in the 1980s, and subsequently housing smaller tournaments.

In recent years, financial issues – including upkeep of the near-century-old complex – forced Club leaders to explore selling the property. A $10 million deal to sell to condo developer Cord Meyer was rejected by members in 2010, much to the relief of many tennis fans.

In May 2011, the Landmark Preservation Commission rejected a bid to landmark the complex’s 15,000-seat tennis stadium “due to the deteriorated state of the building’s architectural features.”

Bob Ingersole, tennis director of the West Side Tennis Club, said the Club’s finances have “gone from poor to improving to stable.”

“We are now in the black,” he said, declining to offer more details or discuss other sale possibilities.

The Club has worked to increase its member base, Ingersole said, attracting more than 100 new members in recent months and bringing in more tournaments. In late August, the club held the Nesquik “Little Mo” International Open for kids, an event that featured appearances by Max Mirnyi and the Bryan brothers.

While it’s trying to keep up with the times, the West Side Tennis Club still feels right out of a past age. Colorful parasols, white chairs, fading photographs and polished name boards stand amid meticulously trimmed grass courts.

Bitsy Metcalf, who grew up learning tennis in New Orleans and wants to start playing regularly again, enjoyed the wood racquet retro-themed Evian Cup.

“I’d love to come back,” said Metcalf, 29.

 

One last spin for land marking Forest Park Carousel


| brennison@queenscourier.com

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Forest Park Carousel is getting one more spin at landmark status.

Area residents and leaders hope to have the historic local landmark officially recognized as one by the city’s Landmark Preservation Commission.

The carousel — which last spun in 2008 — is currently being reviewed by the commission to see whether it meets the eligibility for landmarking.

For the merry-go-round to be considered, it must have official historical or aesthetic interest or value as part of the development, heritage or cultural characteristics of the city, state or nation, as well as be at least 30 years old, said a spokesperson for the commission.

The carousel — built in 1903 and featuring figures carved by master sculptor Daniel Muller — passes the age criteria and many area residents would attest to its heritage and cultural importance.

“I think landmarking would be a fantastic way of preserving it,” said Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Resident’s Block Association, who is pursuing the landmarking. “It’s part of our shared history. It’s part of our community.”

The fact that there are already two carousels landmarked in the city — the Central Park and Prospect Park carousels — has not escaped Wendell’s attention. Those Manhattan carousels are part of larger scenic landmarks, something Wendell feels Forest Park can qualify for, offering the George Seuffert, Sr. Bandshell, the greenhouse and carousel as just a few examples of the park’s historical significance.

The city’s landmarking commission gave no timetable for when a decision on the carousel’s eligibility will be determined. If the commission grants it is eligible, the carousel will then face a hearing and the proposal will go to a vote after which it will be reviewed by the city planning commission and city council.

“This is going to be a long process. Nothing moves fast in this city,” said Wendell, adding that despite not having a timetable, he is confident. “I think we have an excellent chance. Everyone would be happy about it. It’s got to happen.”

He attributed his positive feelings to the combined good will of the local residents. The Save the Forest Park Carousel Facebook page has over 1,100 likes. And those that want to wear their support for the carousel on their sleeve can still purchase “Save the Forest Park Carousel” T-shirts from the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association’s web site.

The carousel has not been operated since its vendor, New York One, did not renew its contract in 2008. Three requests for proposals (RFPs) have been issued since the carousel last operated and the Parks Department announced a fourth RFP on Tuesday, December 13. The Parks Department said it will conduct “extensive outreach” to find a suitable vendor.