December 05, 2016

Photo Essay: The Faces of the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round

The Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round may be the most famous carousel in all of Southern California...

...and that's due, in large part, to Walt Disney.

Legend has it that he used to watch the merry-go-round spin, and it was here that he first got the idea to build his own park—one that would attract families from all over.

So, more or less, it's thanks to the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round that we've got Disneyland.

Of course, even without the story of Walt, this merry-go-round is historic in its own right.

Built by Spillman Engineering Company in 1926, it was originally located in San Diego at Mission Beach...

...then moved to the San Diego Exposition...

...and finally relocated to its current spot in LA in 1937.

It's the only full-size Spillman carousel you can find still in operation...

...though Walt ended up modifying the King Arthur Carousel in Disneyland... make it more similar to this one, the one that inspired him from the start.

And that meant four rows of carved horses, all jumpers. (In the case of the Griffith Merry-Go-Round, that's 68 jumping horses, plus two chariots.)

Not all of the current horses are original to this particular merry-go-round.

Some of them date back to the late 19th century...

...and some were purchased by Spillman from Looff, another well-known carousel maker of the time.

Others were relocated to this merry-go-round from its older sister carousel in Lincoln Park...

...which was gutted by fire in 1976.

Take a ride on the merry-go-round for the music, too, as the giant Stinson band organ completes the vintage experience... playing a variety of marches and waltzes...

...all at an unbelievably loud volume.

It always feels a bit magical while you're riding around in circles on a horse to nowhere. And if you time it just right, you can catch one of those magical Griffith Park sunsets after you dismount.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Taking a Spin Into the Last Century in Balboa Park
Photo Essay: The 100 Year-Old Herschell 3-Abreast Carousel, Santa Barbara
Photo Essay: The Faces of The Santa Monica Pier Carousel
Photo Essay: Wayward Carousel Horses & Other Creatures

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