The first carousel opened in the park in 1871 and was driven by a mule and blind horse hitched to a pole under the ride. That carousel was subsequently electrified and, eventually, replaced in 1924 with one that featured the brass ring made famous in J.D. Salinger's novel, The Catcher in the Rye. That carousel burned in 1950 and was replaced with this carousel that had originally been located (and abandoned) in a BMT trolly terminal at Coney Island.
The Carousel was moved, renovated and updated with a gift from the Michael Friedsam Foundation and named the Friedsam Memorial Carousel. Michael Friedsam (1860-1931) was a New York City native who became president of B. Altman & Company (an early department store chain) and inherited some of Benjamin Altman's fortune in 1913. Friedsam was involved in civic activity and instructed upon his death that his estate be left in trust, "for the care and education of the young and the care and comfort of the aged." (reference)
This carousel was crafted by Sol Stein and Harry Goldstein for the Artistic Carousel Manufacturing Company of Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 1908. It features 58 hand-carved painted horses and two chariots on a turntable 50 feet in diameter. A new Ruth Sohn band organ that plays from Wurlitzer 150 paper music rolls was installed when the carousel was transferred to the park.
The carousel was renovated in 1990 by the Central Park Conservancy. (reference)
Next: Chess and Checkers House