We've got feelings about our Looff Carrousel.
Whether you've lived in the Spokane area your whole life or you're a transplant like me, you know about the Looff.
Riverfront Park's 1909 Looff Carrousel is on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of America's most beautiful and well-preserved, hand-carved wooden carousels. The Looff Carrousel features 54 horses, 1 giraffe, 1 tiger, and 2 Chinese dragon chairs and a brass ring to catch.
Fun fact: "carousel" is the English term from the French "carrousel." Both are correct!
Here's the history:
The City of Spokane's Park and Recreation Department's 1909 Looff Carrousel proudly celebrated its Centennial in 2009. This magnificent carrousel has been in the City of Spokane since it first began operation which is significant for both the city and this carrousel. The 54 horses, 1 giraffe, 1 tiger and 2 chariot benches are all original and have woven themselves into the fabric of our community. With over 300,000 riders a year, the carrousel is undoubtedly the most popular attraction in Spokane.
Charles Looff, a master craftsman, created the Carrousel as a wedding gift for his daughter Emma. On July 18, 1909, Riverfront Park's cherished Looff Carrousel began operation in Natatorium Park, an amusement park on the bank of the Spokane River on the west side of Spokane. After entertaining many generations of children and families, “The Nat” closed its doors for good in 1967 and the Carrousel was put in storage. In the early 1970s a plan was discussed to bring the Carrousel out of storage to display it during Expo 74, but, concerned that the crowds could damage the hand-carved Carrousel, it remained in storage for one more year and made its debut in Riverfront Park in 1975 in a building that had been constructed for Expo. Fortunately for the City's residents and visitors alike, the Carrousel has remained in Spokane all these years and, to date, all of the Carrousel's original figures are still making their rounds, and they look as good (or maybe even better) today as they did in 1909.
Originally built as a Bavarian Beer Garden during Expo '74, the building that housed Riverfront Park's Looff Carrousel from 1975-2016 lacked the stature to properly display the Carrousel's rounding boards, and the absence of proper climate control was contributing to the degradation of the wood carvings. In 2014, Spokane citizens voted to re-house the Carrousel as part of a bond to redevelop Riverfront Park. The new, expanded Looff Carrousel building allows for greater egress around the Carrousel itself, incorporates a larger event facility to better host everything from birthday parties to corporate events, provide expanded restrooms, concessions and a gift shop, as well as incorporate a climate controlled space to protect the longevity of the wood carvings.