Golden Gate Park’s Koret Children’s Quarter has housed three beautiful carousels in their carousel house over the years, each eventually falling into disrepair. While there is now only one functional version left of the classic carnival ride, the last carousel standing is definitely a beauty.
The vintage carousel that currently sits in Golden Gate Park is one of only 100 of its kind still in operation. Built in 1912 in Buffalo, NY by the renowned carousel builders the Herschell-Spillman Company, it took a long, winding path through multiple west coast parks before becoming part of the Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island in 1939. After the fair closed, a $14,000 donation from Herbert Fleishhacker, a local carousel enthusiast, brought it to Golden Gate Park in 1941. Originally powered by steam, it was retrofitted with an electric engine loaned to the park by PG&E.
By 1977, the sadly neglected carousel was showing signs of dry rot, rust, and severely worn surfaces, and was closed due to safety concerns. A massive fundraising effort and the skilled team lead by Ruby Newman brought it back to life, and it now stands beautifully restored, back in the business of delighting folks with dizzy rides on the animal of their choice.
At some point, and no one seem to know just when, a goat was added to the menagerie of 61 other beasts, seemingly originating from the rival Dentzel wooden carousel company. It remains one of the more popular members of the menagerie, which includes a camel, a dragon, two frogs and a stork as well as the more common fare of leaping or standing horses.
- Christopher Pollock; “San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park - A Thousand Acres of Stories” 2001, West Winds Press