Solvang Wind Harp – Solvang, California - Atlas Obscura
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Solvang, California

Solvang Wind Harp

California's oldest wind harp represents a historic piece of America's Danish history. 

Update: Currently been removed for renovation.  According to Chris Parker who is Director of Atterdag Village where it was located, that the harp will be refurbished and replaced in its former location by the third week in September 2016, in time for Solvang’s Danish Days celebration.

The Danish Capital of the United States, Solvang, California, is perhaps best known for its kitsch architecture and delicious pastries, but if you walk just a few blocks from the main drag of tourist shops, you’ll find the Solvang Wind Harp, California’s oldest wind harp.

Now obscured by a bunch of oak trees, the wind harp (or Aeolian harp) originally topped one of the towers of the Danish Pavilion at San Francisco’s 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition. When the exposition ended in December 1915, almost all of the buildings were demolished (with the exception of the Palace of Fine Arts). Fortunately, the wind harp was salvaged and then transported to the newly settled town of Solvang. The design of the wind harp is modeled after the tidskugle (time ball) which used to top Copenhagen’s St. Nikolai Church. Originally made of wood and bamboo, the noisy sculpture is now entirely made of metal. The harp works by being spun as the wind passes through its many threads, creating a variety of musical tones depending on the weather. 

The historic harp now sits behind a nursing home, slowly being overtaken by branches and plants. It may not make much music these days but the harp certainly still sings of the history of Solvang. 




Know Before You Go

Walk up the driveway, the wind harp will be on the left.