Nearby Buildings Take on a New Appearance in the Evening Light of Jane’s Carousel

By Dennis Holt

BROOKLYN BRIDGE PARK — As has been widely reported, the ribbon on Jane’s Carousel, the latest treasure in Brooklyn Bridge Park, was officially cut Thursday evening, Sept. 15.

Speakers from the mayor on down competed with each other for the accolade of the night award, but actually, everyone won.

The almost quixotic story of how this carousel, and the building that houses it, got to its majestic spot in the DUMBO part of the waterfront park has been well told and won’t be repeated in this space. It is one of those “everyone wins” kind of stories. Even an unpleasant rain and a cold wind did not dampen the spirits of the large crowd Thursday night.

The kids there came to ride horses and did not spend any time gazing at the views. Adults who had not seen the carousel before oohed and aahed over it, as many knew of the painstaking restoration by Jane Walentas.

Other adults were impressed by the views and the settings, and for awhile I had a hard time coming to grips with the obvious observation that everyone, including sober-sided people, seemed giddy about everything.

And then I realized why. No one had ever really seen anything quite like what they were a part of. The building designed by Jean Nouvel to house the carousel is quite unique and will probably win some awards.

No one seemed fazed by the fact that it is a square building housing a round object. No one had ever seen a building like this, and it is a working building, alive at night with a dazzling system of lights. The views are expected but still memorable. To the surprise of many, they aren’t limited to scenes of Manhattan or boats in the water with tourists waving hello.

The views also show the very old, nearby buildings, the Empire Stores and Tobacco Warehouse, close up. They take on a sheen of their own. As empty as they now are, there seems to be in this new setting a life to them. Someday, of course, they really will be alive again.

And the carousel and building were just not plopped down on the ground. The attention to the overall landscape, the paved pathways, the location of benches just didn’t happen. A new garden area was created that adds to the allure.

The physical layout, the setting for this novel addition to the new park, was craftily thought out. It is a gem of a place.

And this reporter received a most pleasant surprise. A lady who looked vaguely familiar approached me. She turned out to have been one of the contingent from the Youngstown, Ohio, bus trip who visited the carousel when it was housed in a building on Water Street about a year ago.

She remembered that I wore a different hat that day and reported that she had to come for the official opening. Bet on a photo appearing in the Youngstown newspaper.

At the end, the weather finally cooperated. Cloud banks disappeared, and for those who could see it and bothered to look, there was a most stunning sunset, a rich red dominating the lower western sky. One noticed that the Williamsburgh Bank Building was bathed in that light, and the old gal looked quite spiffy.

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