New York City’s $16 million exotic fish-themed carousel.
Who doesn’t love New York City? It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve been there, I always find something new to explore. On my most recent trip back in September, I spent most of my time exploring Brooklyn, New York City’s most populous borough. While that kept me busy for most of my trip, there was one spot I wanted to see that would take me over the East River and into the city.
The SeaGlass Carousel is located in Battery Park which is located at the southern tip of Manhattan. Battery Park is where the history of New York City began. The area’s strategic location was recognized by Native Americans and Dutch settlers, who called it Capske Hook (from Kapsee, an Indian term for rocky ledge). Near this point, the colonists of the Dutch West India Company began the settlement of New Amsterdam in 1625. As the colony grew and its commerce expanded, piers, wharves, and slips rose along the coastline. The Dutch constructed Fort Amsterdam as early as 1626, and around 1683, the first of a series of gun batteries was constructed around the shore.
With its fine promenade and magnificent vista of the harbor, the Battery became a popular place for New Yorkers to visit in the early 18th century. Its development as a public park owes to its enlargement through landfill. Portions of Battery Park were closed from 1940 to 1952, while the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel and the Battery Park Underpass were built beneath it. Although construction was delayed by World War II, New Yorkers were delighted with the dramatically transformed park, completely relandscaped and expanded by two acres.
Battery Park contains many monuments honoring soldiers, explorers, inventors, and immigrants. Facing the Statue of Liberty across New York harbor, the East Coast Memorial is located at the southern end of Battery Park. This memorial honors the 4,601 missing American servicemen who lost their lives in the Atlantic Ocean while engaged in combat during World War II. The monument consists of a large, paved plaza punctuated by eight massive 19-foot tall gray granite pylons (four each on the southern and northern sides) onto which are inscribed the names, rank, organization and state of each of the deceased.
On the eastern side of the plaza a monumental bronze eagle, sculpted by Albino Manca (1898–1976) and set on a pedestal of polished black granite, grips a laurel wreath over a wave–signifying the act of mourning at the watery grave.
The monument was commissioned by the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC), a small independent agency of the executive branch of the United States federal government.
It was dedicated by President John F. Kennedy on May 23, 1963.
Located directly behind the memorial sits the 2,575 square foot SeaGlass Pavilion—a huge chambered nautilus—that spirals and shines amid The Battery’s flora.
The inspiration for the Carousel began back in 1941 when the park’s New York Aquarium (one of the nation’s first public aquariums) closed. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, many New Yorker’s feared that Lower Manhattan was doomed. The southern end of the Battery desperately needed more light and a whimsical carousel, especially one honoring the areas maritime history, seemed like the perfect way to revitalize this section of the park.
Unlike a traditional carousel that has a center pole, the SeaGlass has four turntables which are driven by electric motors housed below the floor.
This allows each of the 30 massive fiberglass fish to rotate two different ways and bounce up and down, simulating the swim patterns of actual fish as much as possible and giving the riders the feeling of living within an actual aquarium.
Internally illuminated with color-changing LED light fixtures and outfitted with integrated audio systems, each fish is designed to recall the bioluminescence found deep in the ocean.
The rider sits within iridescent fish that glide through the sights and sounds of a 360° aquatic adventure.
There are many different types of fish to choose from including, 3 types of angelfish, 2 types of butterflyfish, a cold blue discus, clearfin lionfish, clown triggerfish, orange spot wrasses, bettas and siamese fighting fish.
I chose one of the 14-foot-high translucent fiberglass angelfish and you can see just how much fun I had riding it (don’t let my poker face fool you, I was having a blast).
Rides on the SeaGlass Carousel cost $5…
…and last about three and a half minutes.
SeaGlass is open 7 days a week, Sunday-Friday: 11AM-7PM, Saturdays and Holidays: 10AM-8PM, weather permitting. Please visit their Facebook page for up-to-date information about weather-related closures.