Friday, June 13, 2008

No. 153 - (Site of) Lincoln Park Carousel

Lincoln Park Carousel - 7/4/35

Lincoln Park Carousel
1924 – Spillman
Destroyed 1976
Lincoln Park – map
Declared: 4/21/76

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.

Lincoln Park Carousel, #1

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.)

Lincoln Park Carousel

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.

Lincoln Park Carousel Band Organ - 8/26/24
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.

(Site of) Lincoln Park Carousel
Lincoln Park Carousel, 1949

Another shot of the site. The merry-go-round stood where the tennis courts' parking lot is:

(Site of) Lincoln Park Carousel

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.

Lincoln Park Carousel, 2008 Version
Lincoln Park Carousel, 2008 Version
Lincoln Park Carousel, 2008 Version
Lincoln Park Carousel, 2008 Version
Lincoln Park Carousel, 2008 Version

Because you've made it this far, I shall reward you with a few bonus shots of Lincoln Park, Los Angeles.

Lincoln Park, Los Angeles
Lincoln Park, Los Angeles
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.

Florence Nightingale by David Edstrom
Lincoln the Lawyer


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)


Anonymous said...

Sadly the carousel will shut down in September due to low ridership.

Floyd B. Bariscale said...

Sorry to hear that. Maybe it was the cost ($1 per ride) or maybe, in 2008, a carousel works better in those places that don't rely on a regular, neighborhood crowd. Thanks for letting me know.

Anonymous said...

I was surprised and saddened to hear of the new carousel. I live a couple of blocks from the park and never heard that a new one had been installed. I think very few people know its there. Hence the low ridership. They should have gotten the work out. That's really too bad. I wish I had known.

Alex said...

As Floyd mentioned, the park doesn't get as much outside people everyday to make the carousel a big attraction. Mostly weekends is when the park is visited by people from other cities. Plus, nowadays a carousel isn't the type of attraction most people are looking for. As sad as that may sound, it's the truth.

Anonymous said...

i grew up in lincoln heights and rode the old carousel. The word about a new one did not get out. I definatly would have taken my grandaughter.$1.00 is not much.

Anonymous said...

Carousel was re-opened on June 26th, 2009! Lets not let it fade away again....

Anonymous said...

The Lincoln Park carousel is open again. Come by and check it out and it’s only $1.00 per ride. For more info please contact the carousel manager Ana Salas at (323) 223-2753 or cell at (323) 632-0914 or email
Open Saturdays and Sundays from 12-6pm.

Carla G said...

Hi I’m so glad I found your site, one of my fondest childhood memories is riding the old Lincoln Park Merry-Go-Round, I’m 49 my grandmother use to take me up until I was about 6 I was so sad when it was destroyed I drive by the park almost every day on the way to work but never go to the park I never knew there was a new Merry-Go-Round I will definitely stop by and make sure to tell everyone I know about it. Love your site keep up the good work!