The SeaGlass Carousel’s Tourism Connection

Jewel-toned and ethereal, the Battery’s SeaGlass Carousel features giant, luminescent fish and dreamy music in a radiant glass and steel pavilion. It’s a one-of-a-kind, otherworldly experience unlike anything else in Manhattan—but what’s the benefit? Do small landmarks like the carousel boost local business?

The Battery Conservancy dreamed up the SeaGlass Carousel as part of their larger mission to beautify the park. Brainstorming a design, the team had the idea to reference the site’s history as the first home of the New York Aquarium. The result of this unique historic inspiration? It looks like no other carousel on the globe.

Amy Kennard of Fraunces Tavern agrees. “Part of its appeal is that it looks so neat and strange, it almost doesn’t fit downtown,” she told me. “But that’s really the best part, and a great design and marketing strategy. It’s modern, whimsical, and stands out of the landscape.” Lower Manhattan, Kennard continued, “has always had an intriguing mix of old and new, with historical, old-timey buildings alongside skyscrapers. But this adds another layer, because it’s weird and futuristic. Now we have the past, present and future all together.”

She would know. Fraunces Tavern, a renowned historic restaurant/museum where George Washington once addressed his officers, has been a Lower Manhattan landmark since before the neighborhood existed. From this perspective, Kennard described the ecosystem of downtown businesses and landmarks.

“With more landmarks,” she said, “you have a network of paths on which tourists are discovering where to eat lunch.” As an example, Kennard told me Fraunces Tavern was well-positioned for tourists leaving the Battery, and the SeaGlass Carousel was perfectly placed in the path to the Statue of Liberty ferry.

Bozhidar Bachvarov of The Wall Street Inn affirmed Kennard’s point. As a historic building, he told me, the Inn is closely related to the history of Dutch and Old New York and the visitation coming to sites like Federal Hall, Trinity Church and Ellis Island’s Immigration Museum. He recently hosted a group who sought out the Inn specifically, because it was on the grounds of the former homes of their Dutch ancestors.

Word-of-mouth is also vital. Bachvarov recommends the carousel to families with children, and Kennard stressed the importance of these recommendations. “Tourists will always ask where to eat or go next,” she said. “Where is the best slice of pizza in New York? Where would my kids have fun?” Fraunces Tavern regularly sends people to the Battery, and they know it’s reciprocal. “We’re members of a tightly-knit family of businesses, museums and cultural organizations, and we are always proud to support one another in business and visitorship.”

And this family is growing. Recent landmarks like the SeaGlass Carousel are consistent with Lower Manhattan’s growth into more of a tourism district. “Now there are like 30 hotels, as opposed to before, when there were five,” Bachvarov mentioned, describing big changes in the last 15 years. “People seem to be rediscovering the area. They seem fascinated by the energy.”

—TF Hottel