Forest Park

The Carousel

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

The Forest Park Carousel holds some of the last surviving creations of master wood-carver Daniel Carl Muller. After emigrating from Germany in the 1880s, Muller settled in Philadelphia and opened D.C. Muller and Brother Co., which operated from 1903 to 1914. Muller crafted figures for twelve carousels in his lifetime; this carousel is one of only two that remain, with his fanciful interpretations of horses, unicorns, bears, and other menagerie animals. Muller worked with the Dentzel Company on the Forest Park Carousel, another historically renowned carousel maker. William H. Dentzel constructed the frame in 1890 and Muller carved the animals in 1903. The carousel was first operated in 1903 in Dracut, Massachusetts, then taken apart and stored for later use.

A different carousel, also constructed by William H. Dentzel, turned on this spot until it burnt down on December 11, 1966. A wooden arm hung with a metal ring reached down from the ceiling, and any child who could take hold of the ring received a free ride. In 1972, while searching for a new carousel, concessionaire Restaurant Associates found the 1903 Muller carousel in the possession of Victor Christ-Janer, an architect in Connecticut. Christ-Janer had given several of the horses to his employees, but agreed to replace them in the sale.

After a full restoration the carousel operated until 1985, when it fell into disrepair and was all but forgotten for three years. It received another meticulous renovation in 1988 and began operating again in the summer of 1989. The carousel contains 49 horses, a lion, a tiger, a deer, and two chariots arranged in three concentric circles. The carousel also contains an original carousel band organ. Today, only four other New York City parks operate carousels: Prospect Park in Brooklyn, Central Park in Manhattan, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, and Willowbrook Park in Staten Island.

Forest Park is one of New York City’s natural treasures. The Wisconsin glacier molded the land 20,000 years ago and left the Harbor Hill Moraine, creating a series of small hills, known as “knob and kettle” terrain, within Forest Park. The Brooklyn Parks Department sought to create a public park and purchased the first parcel on August 9, 1895, with acquisition of additional parcels continuing until 1898. The parkland was originally known as Brooklyn Forest Park, and was incorporated into greater New York with the consolidation of the five boroughs in 1898. At that time, the Brooklyn Parks Department managed parks in what is now all of Queens and Brooklyn. It was not until 1911 that an independent Queens Parks Department was established for the borough. Today, Forest Park offers a wide array of facilities, such as the George Seuffert, Sr., Bandshell, the bridal path, tennis courts, playgrounds, a golf course and Victory Field.

Directions to Forest Park

Know Before You Go

Nature Centers
Forest Park Visitor Center

Forest Park Nature Center is currently closed to the public.

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