Photo Corners

A   S C R A P B O O K   O F   S O L U T I O N S   F O R   T H E   P H O T O G R A P H E R

Enhancing the enjoyment of taking pictures with news that matters, features that entertain and images that delight. Published frequently.

Friday Slide Show: The Merry-Go-Round Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

16 December 2016

The thing about a merry-go-round is that once is not enough. You have to go around more than once. Around and around. And when the music stops and the merry-go-round slows, you still don't want it to end.

This particular merry-go-round has itself had an interesting ride.

Hand-carved in Rhode Island by Charles Looff in 1906, its installation in San Franciso was delayed by the 1906 earthquake and fire. So it went to Luna Park in Seattle until, in 1913, it was moved to Playland at Beach in San Francisco. It remained there until Playland closed in 1972.

In 1982, after extensive refurbishing, it was sent to Shoreline Village in Long Beach near the Queen Mary where it remained until 1998, when the former San Francisco Redevelopment Agency bought it for $1 million to install in a glass pavilion at Yerba Buena Gardens.

In 2014, six years after our slide show images were taken, it was restored once again.

Marvin Gold, who ran it at Playland in 1968 explains, "Technically, it's a merry-go-round and not a carousel, because by definition a carousel consists of only horses and this one contains giraffes, camels and rams." We always called it a merry-go-round, in fact.

Now it's called the LeRoy King Carousel, after the city supervisor who was instrumental in its purchase and return. It's open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Four dollars will get you two rides.

If that sounds pricey, the Golden Gate Carousel (which is also, technically, a merry-go-round) is only $2 for an adult, $1 for children 6 to 12 and free for children 5 and under (who must be accompanied by an adult). Call (415) 231-0077 for the current schedule, which varies by the time of year.

It's the third merry-go-round since the children's playground opened in 1888, built by the Herschell-Spillman Co. in 1814. It was one of the main attractions of the 1938 World's Fair on Treasure Island and also saw duty in Los Angeles and Portland. It was installed in Golden Gate Park in 1940 and restored in 1977, reopening in 1984 with 62 animals including a dragon, camel, goat, horses, frogs, dogs, roosters and pigs.

Photographing a carousel is dicey. For one thing, there are usually children present so privacy is a concern. And for another, some operators jealousy guard reproduction rights to the carved figures.

So we didn't take many images of this beauty while we waited for Macworld Expo to open at Moscone Center in 2008. The MacBook Air was the big announcement that year. Which seems even more antique than a merry-go-round now.

Macworld Expo 2008. That something in the air was the Air.

What we did take, on an overcast January day, we liked, though. We've had a metal print of the charging white stead gracing the bunker for years, in fact.

So we thought we'd make a couple of passes at the edits, just like you go around more than once on a carousel. We had our original crops and then we cropped tighter to focus on the exquisitely carved detail. And then we jumbled them up so the show is as dizzying as the ride would be.

But that's how you see these figures in a carousel. The bell rings to warn you the carousel is starting up, the music begins, they come by once, you look for them again, you delight in the details, you miss one or two and catch up with them later.

And when the music stops everyone gets off.

BackBack to Photo Corners