Take a Ride on these Historic Carousels

Best Western Travel Zone

Once a major American pastime, carousels hold a special place in popular history. Though around the turn of the 20th century, thousands of carousels were constructed, today, the National Carousel Association estimates that roughly 180 carousels are still standing, and some are still in operation. Let the waltz of the Wurlitzer take you on a fanciful ride back in time at one of these historic carousels in the US. 

New Haven, Connecticut 

In New Haven’s Lighthouse Point Park, a circa 1911 carousel still stands today. This rare Murphy Brothers carousel with Carmel and Looff wooden structures consists of 56 jumping horses, 13 standing horses, two dragon chariots, and a camel. Hop on: This carousel is one of roughly 100 historical carouosels still in operation today, open from Memorial Day through Labor Day, weekends and holidays from 12 to 4 p.m., for just a 50-cent fee. 

Washington, D.C. 

The All Hallows Guild Carousel, located in the gardens of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., is estimated to have been built in the 1890s and consists of a rare two-row, stationary menagerie. According to the National Carousel Association, it’s possibly one of only two U.S. Merry-Go-Round Company carousels still in operation today. 

Raleigh, North Carolina 

In Raleigh’s Pullen Park you’ll find a classic wooden carousel built in 1912. Inside, the band organ, constructed in 1924, is a Wurlitzer 125. Horses, jumping and sanding, over 20 menagerie animals, deer, ostriches and rabbits, plus a lion, tiger, goat and more. 

This carousel claimed a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and received top honors from the National Carousel Association in 2015.  

Brooklyn, New York 

Jane’s Carousel is an antique carousel constructed by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company in 1922. Originally from Youngstown, Ohio, a steel boomtown in that era, the carousel was purchased in the 1980s as part of the developer’s master plan for Empire Fulton Ferry State Park in New York City. Located in Brooklyn Bridge Park, the carousel’s 48 carved horses and two chariots still welcomes riders today.  

Columbus, Ohio 

Located inside the popular Columbus Zoo, this classic carousel is still active in the city’s northside suburb of Powell, Ohio. Constructed in 1914 by W. F. Mangels and M. C. Illions, this carousel consists of three rows of 52 all-wooden jumping horses with two chariots. The band organ is a Wurlizter 153 special.  

Story City, Iowa 

Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986, this 1913 classic, made by the Herschell-Spillman Co. of Tonawanda, New York, now stands in North Park. Constructed of all wood, and still in operation, the carousel consists of 20 jumping horses, two dogs, pigs, roosters, plus two chariots (one of Uncle Sam) and even a spinning tub. In 2013, this beauty won the National Carousel Association’s historical carousel award.  

Santa Cruz, California 

One signature feature of the Looff Carousel along the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is its three band organs. The original Ruth & Sohn, dated to 1911, was restored in 2009. A rare Wurlitzer 165 band organ was originally from an amusement park in San Francisco, and a small Wurlitzer 146 was added in 2011. The four-row, all-wood structure, still in its original location, features 71 jumping horses, two sanding horses, and two chariots.  

The original version of this story can be found at Best Western’s Travel Zone.

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