10 artifacts in this set
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The staff at The Henry Ford
Carousel, Monroe Park, Mobile, Alabama, circa 1905
Around 1905, entrepreneurs inspired by the success of Coney Island built amusement parks across the country. An enterprising Mobile, Alabama, railway manager opened Monroe Park at the end of a streetcar line, providing inexpensive weekend access for urban workers looking to spend both their new-found leisure time and disposable incomes. The bayside park featured a theater, zoo, baseball stadium, carousel, and other thrill rides.
"If I Loved You," 1945
The 1945 musical Carousel was Rodgers & Hammerstein's attempt to follow up on the spectacular success of their 1943 musical Oklahoma! Adapted from the 1909 Hungarian play Liliom, the Americanized Carousel revolves around a carousel barker's romance with a female millworker. The song "If I Loved You" involves the characters' hesitant admittance of love for one another.
Edison Institute School Children on the Merry-Go-Round in Greenfield Village, 1948
The Herschell-Spillman Company was one of America's largest and most successful manufacturers of riding galleries, merry-go-rounds, and carousels in the early 20th century. New forms of entertainment had become more popular by the mid-1900s, but these once-thrilling amusement park staples continued to delight young riders. These students broke from their studies in 1948 to enjoy a spin on a circa-1905 Herschell-Spillman riding gallery.
Toy Pail, 1945-1955
Colorful carousels reached the height of their popularity in the early 1900s, but by the middle of the century, these once-thrilling amusement park staples no longer excited most adult riders. After World War II, carousels found a new audience at "kiddie parks" geared specifically to families. The carousel's classic sights, sounds, and motion delighted both young riders and parental onlookers.
Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians gained international success through their prolific recordings produced between 1927 and 1952. Lombardo, a Canadian-American of Italian descent, was one of several bandleaders whose dance bands performed this waltz. By the time it was released in 1949, merry-go-rounds were a nostalgic throwback to an earlier time when adults--rather than children--enjoyed riding them.
Young Girl Seated on a Carousel Horse, circa 1955
By the mid-1900s, carousels -- once thrilling amusement park staples -- no longer excited most adult riders. But after World War II, at new "kiddie parks" geared specifically to families, parents could delight in watching their children take a spin.
Souvenir Book, "Disneyland," 1955
Walt Disney's idea for "a new kind of family park" began in the 1930s, while he was watching his young daughters ride a carousel. In creating what would become known as Disneyland, Disney chose a clean, harmonious, unified environment. Disneyland, considered the first theme park, opened in Anaheim, California, in 1955. It would set the model for other theme parks.
Christmas Card Showing Santa Claus and Reindeer on a Carousel, circa 1955
Mailing colorful, commercially designed greeting cards was a 20th-century American tradition. During the holidays, friends and neighbors commonly exchanged cards wishing the recipient a merry Christmas. Santa Claus, a regular feature, is sometimes depicted non-traditionally in scenes that reflect the time. The carousel in this circa 1955 example -- a common attraction at postwar-era kiddie parks -- represents the youthful delight of the season.
Tumblers, circa 1960
Tumbler (Drinking glass)
From the late 1930s through the 1960s, glass manufacturers designed "hostess sets" for every taste and budget. Often presented as wedding or housewarming gifts, these sets became features of the popular cocktail and patio parties of the time. Whimsical decoration on the glassware, such as the colorful carousel figures depicted on these tumblers, reflected the personality of the hostess.
Herman Miller Picnic Poster, "Carousel," 1991
In 1990, Herman Miller graphic designer Kathy Stanton took over the reins from Steve Frykholm to design the poster for the furniture company's annual employee summer picnic. While Frykholm's picnic posters focused on the food at the picnic, Stanton's designs were inspired by the activities available to the employees and their families. Stanton would design 11 picnic posters, one each year until 2000.