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Monday, January 31, 2011

San Francisco's Beautiful Looff Carousel Horses

Regular readers of The Flirty Blog would probably agree that I spend a lot of time up in San Francisco. And 95% of the time when I leave the city I drive down Fourth Street on my way to the 80 freeway to come home.
Stargazing Pintos

At the intersection of Fourth and Howard, about 5 blocks from the freeway entrance sits a beautiful Carousel completely encircled by tall glass windows and protected by a glass roof.


I swear, nine times out of ten I always seem to hit the red light at the intersection of Fourth and Howard. I wait, look to my left and think to myself that someday I want to go get out of my car and take photos of the Carousel perched above the intersection at the Yerba Buena Gardens. But I never do. Well, I never did until this past weekend when I found myself spending a leisurely afternoon in San Francisco while attending Macworld and realized that it was the perfect time to go take the photos I'd wanted to take for, oh, about a decade!

A Classic Galloping Horse with all Four Hooves in the Air

After lunch we were walking back to the Moscone Center when I detoured over to the Carousel. The thing is, this isn't just any old Carousel. It's a Looff Carousel carved by master woodcarver Charles I. D. Looff. His horses are sooooo beautiful. They look like the kind of horses that could, with just a teensy bit of magic, spring to life, shake out their cascading manes and give a whinny.

The Horses are Four-Abreast

Click to Enlarge any Images

Looff also carved other animals. From what I could see there are camels, giraffes, goats/rams, one standing lion and two dragons, one green one blue on the Zeum Carousel. There were also two chariots for those who want to ride but not sit astride an animal. The chariots are decorated with the green and blue dragons.

A Medieval Carousel Horse

As lovely as this Carousel is there is another Looff Carousel I have seen that is even more lovely. The horses are more ornately jeweled and carved and the restoration and maintenance are superb. The Looff carousel located in Riverfront Park in Spokane, Washington is especially beautiful. If you're ever traveling through eastern Washington State I'd highly recommend stopping by Riverfront Park to ride and view their Looff Carousel. You won't be disappointed.

A Stargazing Galloper

The history of the Yerba Buena Gardens "Zeum" Carousel is more interesting than you'd think with it's many residences listed on their website as:

  • 1906 Constructed in Rhode Island by renowned designer and craftsman Charles I.D. Looff. Could not be installed in San Francisco as planned due to earthquake and fire.
  • 1907 Installed at Luna Park, Seattle
  • 1913 Moved to San Francisco’s oceanside amusement park, Playland-at-the-Beach
  • 1972 Playland-at-the-Beach closes. Carousel purchased by private collector and put into storage in New Mexico
  • 1983 Moved to Shoreline Village, Long Beach, CA
  • 1998 Purchased by the City of San Francisco, fully restored, and opened in its current location at Zeum in Yerba Buena Gardens for new generations of San Francisco residents and visitors to enjoy!
A Dainty Standing Palamino

I love this row of dapple grey horses and how their legs are grey from knee to fetlock. The shading from light to dark grey is subtle but so beautiful.

This was, for all intents and purposes, a throw away shot I took through glass as we were leaving. I didn't think it would turn out at all but surprise, surprise, once I color balanced out the green tint from the glass it came out quite nice in a dreamy sort of way. It makes me want to go back again someday soon for more photos.

The Zeum Carousel: Website at www.Zeum.org
Location: Fourth and Howard, Downtown San Francisco, CA
Hours: 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM Daily
Cost: $3 per person for two rides!
Best Parking: Fifth & MIssion Garage

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