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Building Upon Buffalo’s Carrousel Legacy

Since 2003, Buffalo renewable energy activist Joan Bozer has been rallying support to bring a historic, locally manufactured, carrousel to the waterfront. We’ve been following Joan’s pursuits since the beginning, and are happy to see that her dream might soon become reality. After the arrival of team member, now Project Director, Laurie Hauer-Laduca into the fold, the young go-getter immediately set out to find the appropriate Herschell Carrousel Factory model that would fit the bill for Buffalo.

It didn’t take long for Laurie to track down the ideal carrousel that held all of the site specific specs for the waterfront. “She found it in Ohio,” Joan told me. “It’s a menagerie (lots of different animals), which is very rare. Once the carrousel (circa 1914) was identified, the Wendt Foundation offered up $250K for the purchase, contingent that we work to find the appropriate site in Buffalo. The site must be on the waterfront, in close proximity to the new Children’s Museum. And as we all know, the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) is now looking for a new site for that museum.”

This past year, we have seen firsthand just how many people are looking for family-friendly activities at Canalside. The waterfront destination has been a huge hit thus far, and continues to attract vast numbers of visitors. The carnival that was held in May attracted thousands.  Joan sees the carousel as being a permanent year round fixture in Buffalo, that is representational of this city’s history in manufacturing, cultural bounty, and sustainable energy realms. “The carrousel will be solar powered,” Joan stressed. “It will be enclosed, making it a year round attraction – something that our waterfront desperately needs. It will complement the children’s museum too. There will also be a number of added amenities that will help to make the carrousel a financially sustainable attraction, including interactive exhibits (solar and historic), and additional space for birthday parties and events. For years, we have been researching best the best models from around the country, so that we were prepared for this day. Everything in Buffalo is getting hotter now, and this carrousel in on the front burner.”

As for the carousel that was identified in Ohio, the beast has been owned by the same family since it was first commissioned to be built in North Tonawanda, now the home of the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum.

From the start, the museum has been a stalwart mentor and advisor on this project. “We see this project as a way to collectively enhance our attractions,” observed Joan. “The addition of the carrousel to the waterfront helps to tell the Buffalo story, and would interlink the waterfront with the museum. Just think of the people who would come across Canalside attraction, and then explore the area beyond the waterfront. That’s additional economic impact. Not to mention the historic and energy aspects of the ride. The horses were carved by Buffalo immigrants. The renewable energy speaks of our past and our future as a renewable energy powerhouse (from Tesla to Musk). We want to incorporate a Wurlitzer organ (also made in Greater Buffalo) into the plan, which adds more historic Buffalo flavor to the waterfront.”

Moving forward, the primary objective is to secure the appropraite site, thus securing the grant. From there, additional moneys will have to be raised to restore and transport the carrousel. In order to get the ball rolling even faster, the committee wants to establish as a 501C3 in order to accept future donations. Corporations and foundations could each sponsor an animal’s restoration.

Can you imagine? Instead of simply having a carnival, or a small traveling generic ride, Buffalo could land a whale of an attraction with this fascinating and fun, rare beauty. Hopefully the community rallies behind this very prideful Buffalo attraction that exudes fun-loving animal magnetism.

Lead image: Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum


Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is ‘queenseyes’ – Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world’s largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at The Hotel @ The Lafayette, and the Madd Tiki Winter Luau. Other projects: Navigetter.

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  • everyone but the herschell museum spells carousel with one r.  yes, i am being pedantic.

  • Stateofmind

    God bless Joan Bozer.  She should be in charge of the waterfront. 
    Rick Lohr (sp), who owns International Chimney, also has some carousels. Maybe a group of them could be clustered on the Outer Harbor.

  • DEWagner

    When she says the carousel will be enclosed, how enclosed does she mean?  Part of the attraction would be its visibility from a distance.  I hope they  mean enclosed in a glass-paneled facility, whose doors can be partly opened in good weather.  Or something like that. 
    And in addition to getting Wurlitzer organ,  ECHDC should also get a player piano using QRS (Buffalo-based) scrolls.  And a few Barcoloungers.  etc.

  • nyc lines

    finding a location at canalside where this will work will not be easy.  Could look to Erie Basin Marina…although not near potential children’s museum location.   Also, the design of the structure enclosing the carousel is as important as the carousel itself.  Two decent examples come to mind – Brooklyn Bridge Park and Greenport, NY.  BBP pic below.   It’s not an inexpensive structure…but poorly done and it could be a real eyesore on the water. 

    But consider me a carousel skeptic before going to Greenport… now convinced it’s not a bad idea.  Familes flocked to it…it was on the must do list for anyone with kids under 12 and it helped make the park very active.

  • Jumpingbuffalo

    I wonder if the ECHDC can commission an enclosure design from Toshiko Mori – the architect behind the all-glass visitor center at the Darwin Martin House and now the one working on a master plan for the Botanical Gardens.

  • Captain Picard


    Pedantic is generous.

  • RaChaCha

    I’m a big fan of this project and Joan Bozer!
    Especially after the recent news of the challenges of trying to locate the Explore & More Children’s Museum at Canalside, I think it’s time to take a serious look at the Outer Harbor as a location for the museum and carousel. Terminals A & B (former Nanodynamics) might be a fitting location for both. Imagine, in the summer months, the carousel on the lake shore — with infrastructure to allow it to be moved indoors to the massive, hangar-like space for winter use.
    Terminals A & B are currently available — let’s grab that brass ring!

  • BuffaloRox

    RaChaCha While there is certainly more room in the Outer Harbor, I don’t think the Children’s Museum and the carousel would survive over there right now. The Children’s Museum was a no go because the ECHDC was unrealistic in its RFP criteria.  The Outer Harbor has great active recreation but it doesn’t have entertainment and restaurants that the Museum and carousel will need to consistently attract families (especially during the winter).

  • Jack Lumber

    Wurlitzer organs – and jukeboxes – were made in North Tonawanda. Thank you for acknowledging this overlooked history-rich little city (and not a suburb) as part of “Greater Buffalo”.
    NT also produced Remington typewriters and office machines, Richardson boats (competitor to Chris Craft), Bennett kit homes (competitor to Sears), paper (International Paper), silk goods (Van Raalte), sleds and wagons (Auto Wheel Coaster), among other industrial products.
    North Tonawanda still produces shock absorbers for skyscrapers and bridges in earthquake-prone regions around the world (Taylor Devices) and has the oldest and only year-round farmers market in WNY!

  • No_Illusions

    Jack Lumber
    NT also had their own NFL team for a hot second.

  • GotAnyChange

    That’d be awesome.

  • nyc lines
    congress park in saratoga springs (their olmsted park) also has a carousel, with more period-appropriate housing.

  • thumbs71
  • nyc lines

    i think that example would feel out of place at canalside.. as if the waterfront was originally an amusement park and not an commercial harbor.  it would distort the legibility of site history and i don’t think it showcases the beauty of the carousel very well.  Maybe in a different location… a town park.  But even there i would go with a design more consistent with the greenport structure.

  • john 501

    As a collector of caousel art (horses) and a true carousel enthusiast on it’s history and artistic values, I personally love this idea.  The Herschell factory in NT produced many different styles of horses throughout it’s “golden years”.  I hope the carousel they are planning on is more of a permanent style (larger, more ornate horses), than it’s country fair style, which was meant to be broken down and relocated.  The horses on these tend to be smaller and less ornate.  Just a personal opinion of course.  Growing up in Brooklyn, I rode the Coney Island, Central Park and Prospect Park horses all the time.

  • MatthewMoje

    nyc lines grad94 love this design, modern but with a classy feel plus it will be great to open up in the warm weather!

  • Mrrochester

    Your neighbor, Rochester, has always had a carousel at its waterfront, the Dentzel Carousel:

  • john 501

    Mrrochester I love Dentzels carvings, but my favorite is Marcus Illions horses, they are so lifelike!!

  • So-Cal

    Was going to suggest the Brooklyn Bridge Park Carousel as the model to follow. Before this news even broke I was just telling my wife that a carousel like the one at BBP would be a perfect fit at Canalside. I hope they make the most of it!