During one of the many speeches given during our Forest Park Carousel’s bicentennial celebration in the year 2103, one of our future historians will talk about its history, including the periods of time when it lay neglected and shuttered, its future in doubt.
Visitors will marvel at the beautiful menagerie, running their hands over the smooth horse’s muzzles; overwhelmed by the notion that someone carved all of these animals by hand. They’ll stand back and look at the entire carousel and see it for what it is - a beautiful, everlasting piece of art.
But most importantly, the children of 2103 Woodhaven will be at this celebration and they’ll ride our historic Forest Park Carousel, just as generations of the children of Woodhaven had done before them.
And this is due to the fact that our historic Forest Park Carousel is now a New York City landmark. This means that it is protected, that it will not be dismantled, nor will it be sold and moved to another community.
We will not be here in 90 years; our beloved carousel will.
The world is changing so rapidly, we really can’t be sure what will still be here in 90 years. Woodhaven residents from 90 years ago would look at Woodhaven today and wonder where the Grosjean mansion went, not to mention the factory. They’d ask what happened to the Atlantic Avenue Railroad and the Rockaway Beach Branch of the LIRR.
They’d look at Woodhaven Boulevard and wonder what the heck happened to the quiet little two-lane road, and where did all the beautiful homes that ran alongside it go? And where did these big noisy elevated trains come from? And what happened to the baseball field? Did you really tear down Dexter Park? Where are the moviehouses? You don’t even have a single theater?
To the residents who lived in Woodhaven 90 years ago, the Woodhaven of today would largely be unrecognizable. And over the years, the residents of Woodhaven have mourned as each bit of our community’s past has slowly disappeared; lost to change and progress; lost to neglect; lost to time.
And we have to expect that the Woodhaven of 90 years from now will be similarly unrecognizable. Who knows how many of our beautiful churches will still be standing? Will the houses of Woodhaven – many of them already around 100 years old – last another 90 years? If you could time-travel to the Woodhaven of 2103, would you even recognize your own hometown?
Well, you can be assured that there will be at least one survivor, one guardian of the old days and the old ways. Even if you recognized nothing else, even if nothing else remained, you’ll forever be at home in Woodhaven when you visit the Forest Park Carousel.
It is a common bond, part of our shared experiences as residents of Woodhaven, regardless of whether you grew up in the 20th, 21st, or 22nd centuries. Memories of riding the Forest Park Carousel will be something that a man born in 1900 and a boy born in 2100 will share.
There may be little else in common between the residents of Woodhaven of today and tomorrow, but our love for our historic ride will connect us for many generations to come.