115. Children's Playground Golden Gate Park, San Francisco - 1905

The first public playground in the United States, the Children’s Playground in Golden Gate Park, opened in 1887, more than 120 years ago!

It was a groundbreaking move in that era to dedicate space for the sole purpose of youthful play.

Besides playing on the swings or slides, children could saddle up on a burrow or ride in a goat pulled cart down the specifically designated donkey path. However, the constant and most popular entertainment over the years has been the carousel.

A permanent carousel enclosure in the form of a Roman temple, complete with Doric columns, was designed by architect A. Page Brown. Constructed of wood in 1892, it remains the home of the current carousel.

The current carousel is the third and was carved and manufactured in upstate New York in 1912. With 62 menagerie animals, several benches, a set of picture panels and an organ, it was a magical draw. After years of wear, the carousel was painstakingly restored; the animals sport a fresh and dazzling array of colors and a German band organ provides the cheerful music of a calliope. The carousel reopened in 1984 and is once again a sparkling enticement to children of all ages.

The Sharon Building, a San Francisco Landmark, can be seen in the background. Completed in 1888, the sandstone building was designed in the Richardson Romanesque style by architects George W. Percy and Frederick F. Hamilton. It served as a canteen for children and mothers visiting the playground. Restored after the 1906 earthquake and after a fire in 1974, the building is now home to the Sharon Art Studio, a community art center.

References: Golden Gate Park: San Francisco's Urban Oasis in Vintage Postcards (CA) (Postcard History Series)

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