Celebrate the opening of the south bank including the new Howard Street South Bridge and repaired Rotary Fountain
Fianna Dickson, 509.435.1866
Thursday, May 3, 2018 at 8:24 a.m.
Celebrate the grand opening of the new home of the Looff Carrousel on Saturday, May 12 at 1 P.M., shortly following the end of the Junior Lilac Parade. The refurbished 1909 carrousel will whirl in its new home of glass along the river.
Looff Carrousel at Riverfront Grand Opening
Saturday, May 12 1 P.M. ribbon cutting ceremony Festivities continue until 7 P.M. Rides: $2 each (ages 2 and under free with paid adult) Free festivities
Riverfront Park's Looff Carrousel is on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of America's most beautiful and well preserved hand-carved wooden carrousels. Our carrousel (spelled with two “r’s” in the traditional French fashion) proudly features 54 horses, 1 giraffe, 1 tiger, and 2 Chinese dragon chairs, plus a golden ring. It can accommodate wheelchairs. Spring hours will begin Sunday, May 13: 11 A.M. – 7 P.M.
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.
A New Home
Originally built as a Bavarian Beer Garden during Expo '74, the building that housed Riverfront'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 incorporates a climate controlled space to protect the longevity of the wood carvings. It allows for greater egress around the carrousel itself, incorporates a larger event facility to better host everything from birthday parties to corporate events, and provides expanded restrooms, concessions and a gift shop. Learn more about the new Looff Carrousel building.
By the Numbers
No solid statistics have been kept on our carrousel over its full lifetime of nearly 110 years. However, by making some assumptions based on the number of rides per hour, the number of riders per ride, etc. the following statistics have been estimated.
How many riders? 24.3 million It's been estimated our carrousel gave rides to about 13 million riders during its days at Nat Park. Since it opened in Riverfront Park in 1975, it has averaged about 275,000 riders per year, for an additional 11,275,000 riders.
How many rides? 1.2 million rides, 17 million revolutions We estimate that an average ride on our carrousel runs with about 20 riders on board. During that time, the carrousel makes 14 revolutions at a speed of 7mph at the outer row of the platform.
How many miles? 480,000 – greater than the distance to the moon and back. In its 14 revolutions per ride, the outer rows of our carrousel travel more than 4/10 of a mile.
How many mirrors? 333 There are 14 mirrors on each of the carrousel's 20 rounding boards (the curved portion on the overhead section). Another 40 mirrors turn with the center section of the carrousel and there are 11 stationary mirrors in the center section.
Howard Street South Bridge
The new bridge is the first completed phase of the Promenade that will take visitors north/south through the park. It offers pedestrians a step-down feature to get closer to the river in this calm area near the Looff Carrousel, and serves as the southern gateway into the redeveloping park.
This popular water feature also serves as a gateway marker for the south entrance to the park. After 13 years, the mechanical and electrical elements of the fountain were in need of repair, and the timing was ideal given the construction at the nearby Looff Carrousel and Howard Street South Bridge sites. The beloved Harold Balazs artwork is unchanged. We’re adding a permanent seating area around the perimeter of the fountain for improved safety and comfort.
Dedicated in 2005, the fountain was made possible by the Downtown Spokane Rotary Club 21, the Spokane Parks and Recreation, and numerous donors whose names appear around the fountain.