It’s nice to have an authentic antique carousel right in our own back yard, available for riding and reminiscing just a short trip away in Tilden Regional Park. The classic 1911 Herschell-Spillman wood carousel at Tilden, in fact, is one of a number of working merry-go-rounds open to the public in the Bay Area and a favorite for family outings both during summer and the Christmas holidays alike.
But we may be more fortunate than we realize, according to this article on smithsonian.com, which states that “the ornate, well-made carousels of the past are in danger. They’re deteriorating and being sold off piecemeal, horse by horse, or sometimes even for parts.”
Carousels were not hard to find from the 1890s to the 1920s, with 3,000 or so in operation in locations around the United States at the height of their popularity.
Today there are about 150 antique carousels left, including the Tilden merry-go-round.
The National Carousel Association has compiled a map showing locations of antique, metal and new carousels that remain in operation across the 50 states and you can see a nice concentration in the Bay Area and Northern California.