Sunday, March 20, 2016

A Rare Dentzel Carousel At The San Francisco Zoo

This is the second in a series about antique carousels in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The carousel at the San Francisco Zoo is a rare menagerie carousel and is one of only fourteen in the world. It is also one of only seven carousels, built by the Dentzel family, existing in the United States. Why is this special? Because modern day carousel animals are made from cast metal and fiberglass but the old ones were hand carved from wood. Dentzel carousels in particular were known for their intricate lifelike animals, enhanced with whimsical trappings.

 This Dentzel Carousel was built in 1921 and installed for the opening of the Pacific City Amusement Park in Burlingame, CA in July, 1922. The amusement park lasted less than two years (an interesting story in itself) so the carousel was sold to the San Francisco Zoo in 1925.

 I'm glad to say the SF Zoo has taken good care of this carousel, renovating it several times over the years. It consists of 50 animals and two chariots. The outer animals are standers, meaning they have three or four feet on the ground and do not go up or down. They are however, the most beautifully decorated because they are the ones easily seen by spectators.

The two inner rows are made up of jumpers, moving animals with all four feet off the ground.

If you take the time to look, you will notice some fantastical additions to the saddle trappings.

The outer and inner panels that cover the machinery are worth noticing as well.

There is usually a “lead horse” (most decorated) on the outside row of the carousel. I don't know if this is the lead horse or not, but it was certainly my favorite!

The only drawback to this carousel is that it relies on recorded music; it does not have an organ. But it's variety of animals more than makes up for it and it only costs $3 a ride. Also, adults may ride free if they are standing next to their child.

Go to the SF Zoo's website for more information on location, admission and hours. And if you'd like to know more about the zoo, you can check out my other blogs:
Regarding The San Francisco Zoo
A New And Fantastic Playground At The San Francisco Zoo 
Please Touch! Animal Sculptures At The San Francisco Zoo 

Want to know more about carousels in the SF Bay Area? Check out the first blog in this series. 


Steve Cowan said...

Karen, those are beautiful photos! What's surprising to me is that the animals appear to be in such great shape, unaffected by the sea air and little kids' shoes, for instance. I remember riding a carousel in Illinois when I was a little boy--one of my best childhood memories.

Karen Gough said...

Thanks Steve! The carousel has had several renovations so I think that's why it's in pretty good shape, although I did see some peeling paint. The more I find out about carousels, and take photos of them, the more I like them!
Glad you enjoyed the blog. Thanks for commenting my friend!