William F. Mangels

Ride Inventor and Manufacturer

William F. Mangels, the "Wizard of Eighth Street," was a machinist and a scholar. He emigrated from Germany in 1883 at age sixteen and by 1886 had a small machine shop in Coney Island where he made cast-iron targets for shooting galleries. Mangels then began studying patents and inventing mechanisms for rides. In 1901 he patented an improved version of the overhead jumping-horse suspension for carousels, the standard mechanism still used on most carousels today. He also invented rides such as the Tickler and the Whip and built the mechanisms for countless roller coasters and scenic railways, including the Ziz at Feltmans.

Mangels's shop could repair any ride in Coney Island, but carousels became his specialty. He crafted the mechanisms for some of the most popular machines of the day. One was the B&B Carousel, which still operates in Coney Island. He teamed up with M.C. Illions, the famed woodcarver, and together they produced classics like the Feltmans carousel on West Tenth Street. Their combination of artistry and engineering produced what are considered the best carousels ever made.

Mangels was also an historian known for his scholarly work. In 1929 he founded the American Museum of Public Recreation on West Eighth Street and Neptune Avenue, and in 1952, at the age of eighty-five, he wrote a definitive history titled The Outdoor Amusement Industry. Mangels died in 1958 at the age of ninety-two. His former shop building on West Eighth Street is now an office of the Department of Motor Vehicles.

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