Lincoln Park Carousel
1924 – Spillman
Lincoln Park – map
So of the three carousels which have spun in Lincoln Park, numbers one and three still can be found (although one is close to 400 miles NNW). The second, the one designated a City Landmark in 1976, is gone just as long, I’m afraid.
In 1914, the Davis brothers – carpenter Oliver Funk and carousel broker Ross R. – installed a 1912 wooden Herschell-Spillman merry-go-round in what was then Eastlake Park. (This is three years before voters chose to change the name of East Los Angeles to Lincoln Heights.) (Another parenthetical aside: Griffith Park is the home of another Herschell-Spillman carousel today.) A ‘menagerie carousel’, it has a tiger, a lion, a stork, a deer, a goat, a camel, a dragon, two frogs, a pair of zebras, two dogs, two roosters, two mules, a pair of ostriches, two pigs, and twenty-eight horses. I write 'has' because this merry-go-round still exists. In 1931, Ross Davis sold the carousel to a man named Speed Garret. Garret shipped it up to Lotus Isle in Portland, OR. Two years later, Ross repossessed the merry-go-round and put it in Oregon storage. By the end of the decade, George Whitney bought the carousel and installed it on Treasure Island in San Francisco. In 1940, it was moved to its current home in Golden Gate Park. For pictures of the 94-year-old merry-go-round, visit this National Carousel Association page. (Word is this 1914 carousel includes a goat by German-American Gustav Dentzel, which, in the world of merry-go-rounds, is a pretty big deal.)
Back to L.A. The building that housed the carousel in L.A. was designed by the Los Angeles Bureau of Architecture. Early on, the structure's dome needed to be raised and a new foundation was poured when the land beneath the carousel was found to be too swampy.
The Lincoln Park Carousel Band Organ
In 1931, to replace the original 1914 carousel sold to Garret, the Davises bought a 1924 Spillman merry-go-round in operation at the nearby failing Luna Amusement Park. This one, too, was a menagerie, according to Oliver’s son, John Oliver, “but with fewer menagerie figures than the first. It had lion [sic] and a tiger, as I recall, a couple of goats and a couple of giraffes, but mostly horses.” It was an 18-section carousel, 50-foot four-abreast. This is the one declared a Historic-Cultural Monument in April 1976.
The tragic news is, on August 25, 1976, just four months after the city chose to designate the 1924 carousel, vandals chose to burn it down.
Okay. So here's a picture of the site of the old carousel followed by a shot of the old carousel itself. I tried to match it up somewhat - you can sorta tell by the curve in the macadam in the lower left-hand corners. Close enough for government work, I always say.
Another shot of the site. The merry-go-round stood where the tennis courts' parking lot is:
A VERY big thanks to Javier Arevalo who, along with his cousin, David, was nice enough to show me around Lincoln Park the other week, specifically to the exact spot where the old carousel stood. Without them, I would still be wandering around the park, clueless. Javier is the owner of the very best website on the history of Lincoln Heights. If I’m late posting this, it’s because I’ve spent way too much time on his site, reading about the Indian Crafts Exhibition, Luna Park Zoo, and the Alligator and Ostrich Farms. (He also provided me with all of these black and whites pictures; they're from the Davis Siblings Collection.) Every community should have a supporter like Javier.
For pictures of the carousel a year before it was torched, go to Javier’s page here. And for one picture of a salvaged, charred horse, click here and scroll down.
During my Sunday visit, Javier introduced me to Frances, the operator of the new Lincoln Park Carousel v 3.0. Rides are a buck (cheap!), so do your kids and Lincoln Park a favor and let them take a spin on the new merry-go-round. Who knows? Maybe, fifty years from now, it’ll be City Landmark No. 1942.
Here's the new ride. Note, in the top shot, the filly with the pink roses is the lead horse.
Because you've made it this far, I shall reward you with a few bonus shots of Lincoln Park, Los Angeles.
And, finally, a pair of Lincoln Park statues: Florence "Handless Flo" Nightingale by David Edstrom, 1936-1937; and Lincoln the Lawyer by Julia Bracken Wendt, dedicated July 4, 1926.
McGrew, Patrick and Robert Julian Landmarks of Los Angeles Harry N. Abrams, Incorporated 1994 New York
Up next: Fireboat No. 2 and Firehouse No. 112 (Demolished)