Wednesday, May 14, 2014

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This carousel operator's license, which recently sold on eBay for $30, has several different levels of PermaRec interest. Let's take them one at a time:

1. Fascinating to see that carousel operators' licenses came under the jurisdiction of the NYC Building Department's Elevator Division!

2. You don't see many municipal licenses with photos anymore, at least not here in New York. Taxi drivers? Yes. And maybe barbers and some food handlers, too. But carousel operators? No way.

3. A bit surprising that the licensee, Howard Clayton, wore a jacket and tie for his mug shot. Not the typical disreputable-carny stereotype.

4. Here's where it gets really interesting: The carousel's address is listed on the license as 1000 Surf Ave. That's in Coney Island, and it was the location of Feltman's Carousel. "Feltman's" refers to Charles Feltman, the man who, according to most accounts, created the Coney Island hot dog around 1867. (Nathan Handwerker, who later founded Nathan's, actually got his start as one of Feltman's employees and slept on Feltman's kitchen floor.)

Anyway: Feltman eventually branched out from hot dogs and created a boardwalk empire of sorts at Coney Island, opening nine restaurants, a hotel, a beer garden, and several amusement rides — including a series of carousels. The biggest and best one, which opened in 1903, remained at 1000 Surf Ave. long after Feltman's death and was still there when Howard Clayton applied for that operator's license in 1962.

But it wasn't there for much longer. Feltman's Carousel was one of two Coney Island merry-go-rounds that were dismantled and then combined to create a new carousel for the 1964 World's Fair. That carousel, which includes 24 horses from the Feltman's ride, still operates today in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens.

Feltman's Carousel's last year before being shut down and taken apart was 1963 — one year after Howard Clayton's license was granted. So Clayton was probably one of the last people to operate this historic ride, at least in its original incarnation.

That's a lot of info and history embodied in one random document from eBay, no?

(Big thanks to reader David Gratt for pointing me toward this one.)

1 comment:

  1. Lots of NYC DCA licenses have sightseeing guide license has my ugly mug on it.