In August, 1976 fire gutted the 1924 historic carousel at Lincoln Park, destroying priceless carousel carvings, and spelling the end of an era.
But not all was lost. Three horses from the 1924 masterpiece created by the famous Spillman Engineering Company survived and remain, installed on the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round, the Lincoln Park’s sister carousel built just a few years later.
The Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round is a survivor in its own right. Built in 1926 by Spillman, it was originally part of the amusements at Mission Beach, San Diego, and was moved to Griffith Park in 1937. The 68 intricately carved horses and the bucolic scenes on the canopy and backdrop have seen better days, but the gently worn feeling is offset beautifully by the extraordinary level of craftsmanship and the rare opportunity to ride a vintage carousel surrounded by parkland.
According to signage at the carousel, some of the jeweled horses date from as far back as 1887. This merry-go-round is also believed to have inspired Walt Disney, and the famous bench where he sat watching his daughters play on the carousel is still preserved. The concept of his theme park was born as he dreamed of a place where both parents and children can have fun.
A vintage looking, but relatively new Stinson 165 Military Band Organ cranks out festive tunes at an impressive volume and tempo, its organ notes punctuated with drums, bells, and cymbal crashes. Like fairground contraptions of old, the organ plays over 1500 selections of marches and waltzes, and features animated figures on its decorated façade.