We present a detailed history of glacial to Holocene radiocarbon in the deep western North Atlantic from deep-sea corals and paired benthic-planktonic foraminifera. The deglaciation is marked by switches between radiocarbon-enriched and -depleted waters, leading to large radiocarbon gradients in the water column. These changes played an important role in modulating atmospheric radiocarbon. The deep-ocean record supports the notion of a bipolar seesaw with increased Northern-source deep-water formation linked to Northern Hemisphere warming and the reverse. In contrast, the more frequent radiocarbon variations in the intermediate/deep ocean are associated with roughly synchronous changes at the poles.