2008-11-21 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

What Goes Around! Comes Around! - Maybe In The Future?
From The Rockaway Museum Commentary by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

From 1885 to 1985 … many carousels have made their rounds in the Rockaways … giving a temporary cool breeze, relaxation, pleasure and enjoyment … to children of all ages from six to sixty plus!

I always did pick a horsie that went up and down, on the outer perimeter of the wondrous wheel, so I could possibly snare the brass ring from the ring catcher arm extended for this purpose by the ride operator. With this item in hand, one got a free ride.

The first carousel appeared in the Rockaways during the mid 1880s, was brought to America by Frederick A. Schildt (a German immigrant) and was erected north of the boulevard on the east side of Beach 103 Street. The wheel was man powered at first, then animal powered, then steam powered.

Schildt was lost in the great Seaside holocaust of 1892.

The last carousels in the Seaside section of the Rockaways were the Rockaway's Playland Wheel and the William Nunley Wheel. Both were north of the boulevard on opposite sides of Beach 98 Street, and, both were sold and removed a century after Schildt's wheel began its joyful and beloved revolutions in Seaside. Nunley's was sold in pieces (whereabouts unknown) but the Playland carousel is still running at Six Flags, Austin, Texas. This is a William Dentzel carousel made expressly for Playland in 1927. Many picture postcards were sold at carousel sites, but only a few have survived the years. Real photo color cards command high prices in the postcard collecting world. A color card of Nunley's Wheel appears in my book called "The Rockaways," published by Arcadia Publishing's postcard history series.

Comical carousel cards such as the one appearing today were also sold at carousel sites. This sample was sold at Nunley's Wheel in Seaside opposite Rockaway's Playland. It has a lot of historical, mirth and nostalgic value.

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