Jane’s Carousel

Jane Walentas. Phaidon Press, $69.95 (212p) ISBN 978-1-8386-6188-5
In this fascinating debut, Walentas chronicles her decadeslong endeavor to painstakingly restore Brooklyn Bridge Park’s antique carousel. Walentas and her husband—a developer then working on a proposed revitalization of the Brooklyn waterfront neighborhood now known as Dumbo—purchased the 1922 Philadelphia Toboggan Company carousel at auction in 1984, intending it to become the park’s centerpiece. When Walentas couldn’t find anyone to restore it, she took on the enormous project to rehabilitate “[f]orty-eight horses, two chariots, and the countless elements that made up the Carousel... many of which were caked in soot and grease.” Her eight-year mission is captured in both photographs—from detailed diagrams of the carousel to images of Walentas peeling back layers of paint with X-Acto knives—and her own ebullient recollections, “when I felt more like an archaeologist conducting a dig than an amateur restorer bringing a carousel back to its glory days.” While her enthusiasm is inspiring, she also stays candid about the project’s many headaches, including when she “was forced to go from restorer to campaigner,” after critics tried to remove the carousel from the proposed park plans. Despite this, Walentas’s dreams came true when the carousel had its grand opening at Brooklyn Bridge Park in 2011. This triumphant story is not to be missed. (July)
Reviewed on : 05/04/2021
Release date: 07/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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