5 Things You Didn’t Know About Carousels
1. Round and round and round they go…
You’ve heard that on the other side of the world, toilets flush in the opposite direction. Did you know that in America carousels turn counterclockwise? And that in England, they rotate clockwise? Traditionally, horses are mounted from the left side. This is because most warriors were right handed and kept their swords on their left side for fast access. Mounting a horse from the right would be too difficult. In England, the carousels rotate clockwise so the horses can be mounted from the left, keeping with tradition.
Another interesting note on direction is that a 1906 Hungarian carousel had its horses point out from the center. Traditionally, carousel horses run parallel with the center post, with one side facing the post and the other side facing the crowd. The side that faces out is usually more ornate and is called the “romance” side.
Have you noticed the different stances of the carousel horses? There are some that have all four feet on the ground, these are called “standing figures”. Some of the horses have their two front feet in the air, the back two on the ground – these horses are called “prancers”. The horses that move up and down on the poles have all four feet in the air and are appropriately called “jumpers”.
3. Also known as…
In America, carousels have been known as merry-go-rounds, whirligigs, flying horses and hobby horses. In France, these rides are called manèges de chevaux de bois. In Germany, they are called karussell.
4. It’s good for you
Some carousel advertisements in early nineteenth century America stated that the ride was highly recommended by physicians as an aid in circulating the blood.
5. Historically speaking
There are many carousels that have a place in history. One of the more interesting ones is a 1947 ride that was found in Maryland during segregation. In 1963, on the day of the historical March on Washington, an 11-month-old girl rode the carousel and desegregated the amusement park where the carousel was located. In 1981, this same carousel was moved to the National Mall.
Today, carousels are still found in parks all across the globe. However, a lot of the original ones have become extinct.