Essay

Under-the-Radar U.S. Town Is Known as the ‘Carousel Capital of the World’

In New York, Binghamton is a mid-size town home to roughly 50,000 people. Some of the nation’s states have been known by their nicknames because of their colorful past. As an illustration, Binghamton is known as the World’s Carousel Capital!

In the late 1800s, the first carousel was constructed. How did these amusement rides become the reputation of this little New York city? Let’s discuss it!

How Binghamton became the Carousel Capital of the World

This city has a lovely collection of antique merry-go-rounds on its outskirts. You can travel back in time with these timepieces to the days when people would count down the days before the circus visited their town.

George F. Johnson, an Endicott-Johnson Shoe Company partner, would supply lots of amenities for the 20,000 employees. 52 million pairs of shoes would be produced annually by these industrious workers during the Great Depression.

In addition to throwing parades and other activities, George would grant his staff free use of carousels, theaters, libraries, and golf courses. Between 1919 and 1934, the shoe firm installed six festive merry-go-rounds across Binghamton as part of its ongoing efforts to better the area.

The business viewed this as much more than just giving its staff an enjoyable time. Johnson thought it was a fantastic method to provide kids with amusement and live a happy life.

A dime would never be charged for a spin on the carousel. That is not to mean that admission would be free! Before boarding one of the exquisitely carved animals, riders would have to give one item of rubbish to a nearby trash can.

Where Are Carousels in Binghamton?

You can still ride the city’s carousels now! Every year, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, they are free to access. They can be found at this location:

Ross Park

A Johnson carousel can be found at the Ross Park Zoo. Even though the perfect merry-go-round was presented in 1920, it was constructed in the late 1800s! A wooden pavilion houses the ride.

You can enjoy a pleasant view while inside thanks to its sixteen sides. In total, there are sixty horses. There are two chariots and they are all standing four abreast, jumping! This place can accommodate the entire family!

Recreation Park

The carousel at Recreation Park comes next. This one and the ride at Ross Park are somewhat similar. It features sixty jumping horses and was installed in 1925. The exquisite work of art is housed in a similarly exquisite wooden pavilion.

Recent years have seen the restoration of the cupola and horses. All across the park, there is an original organ that plays well-known tunes. During the holiday season, this is a popular site. All of December, Saturdays are when it is open.

For fans of the show, this roller coaster served as the inspiration for the ninth-best Twilight Zone episode. “Walking Distance” is the name of the episode, which debuted on October 30, 1959.

Johnson Park

Of all the merry-go-rounds in Binghamton, the Johnson City carousel is the biggest and most intricate, having been installed in 1923. When kids are riding about, they can pick among 72 figures!

These figures are all beautifully carved. The original mirrors and paneling surround the carousel. The fact that this is housed inside a two-story cupola is what sets it apart!

Park Highland

Highland Park currently houses another carousel that was donated by the shoe manufacturer. It was first constructed in En-Joie Park in the middle of the 1920s. The carousel was relocated to its current location in 1967.

It offers riders a selection of animals, such as pigs, horses, and dogs! The merry-go-round features mirrors in the middle encircled by enormous light bulbs, and it can accommodate 36 figures for riders.

West Endicott Park

Next, residents of West Endicott Park love the carousel there. All the way back in, it was bought. A to Z Animals was informed by one of our readers that, in his younger days, he experienced this ride. Now, he and his partner come to enjoy the merry-go-round with their kids!

The outside framework of this one-story carousel is mostly made of wood. It is contained within a pavilion and has sixteen sides like the others. Riders have a selection of 34 horses, 1 pig, and 1 dog. This carousel was included as part of the National Historic Register in 1992.

George W. Johnson Park

Finally, residents of Endicott genuinely love the town’s carousel. Even though it’s been completely repaired, the 1934 ride still has a lot of charm. After the repairs were completed in 1994, the city has maintained this beloved local landmark with great care ever since!

There are two chariots and three horses per row totaling 36 horses. A glass enclosure was constructed to the moving artwork in the late 1990s to protect it from the weather. It becomes a “Scarousel” during the Halloween season to get everyone in the mood for the holidays!

Last Words

Make sure to take a card from each carousel as you proceed from one to the next. Once you get them all, you can exchange the cards for a commemorative pin! These carousels are not only entertaining for the whole family, but they also have a fascinating history, having been founded by a firm whose sole goal was for its patrons to enjoy life and have fun!