Our Carousels Then:
Between 1919 and 1934, George F. Johnson (1857 – 1948), shoe manufacturer and great benefactor, donated six beautiful carousels to our local parks. Johnson’s commitment to recreation was always more than just good business. He felt carousels contributed to a happy life and would help youngsters grow into strong and useful citizens. Because of his own poor childhood, “George F.” believed carousels should be enjoyed by everyone and insisted that the municipalities never charge money for a magic ride.
Now, into their eighth decade, these magnificent machines still spin from Memorial Day to Labor Day at no charge or for an admission of “one piece of litter.” In a day when nothing is free, we boast the world’s greatest entertainment bargain!
Our carousels (we’ve always called them merry-go-rounds), were all manufactured by the Allan Herschell Companies of North Tonawanda, New York, in the “country fair” style. You can still hear the sounds of the original WurliTzer Band Organs on the Recreation and Ross Park carousels.
And, if you are lucky enough to ride on all six merry-go-rounds, you will be delighted by monkey chariots, horses with hidden lions in the saddle blankets, a pig, and even a dog. Not to worry, every carousel animal in Greater Binghamton is a “jumper!” You can “Ride the Carousel Circuit” by collecting a card at each carousel, and when you have all six you’ll receive a special button.
What is even more remarkable is that of 150 wood-carved carousels remaining in the United States and Canada, six are right here in Greater Binghamton, New York!
Carousel hours of operation are subject to change. Please check individual carousel listing for regular hours of operation. Carousels may not operate in inclement weather, so please call ahead to confirm carousel is running.
Our Carousels Now:
Greater Binghamton has the only carousel collection of this kind in the world. Of the fewer than 150 antique carousels remaining in the United States and Canada, six are in Greater Binghamton, New York.
Because of the uniqueness of these carousels and the incomparable circumstances of their survival and existence, all six are placed on the New York State Historic Register and the National Register of Historic Places.
In addition, exhibit panels that explore the history of carousel making, George F. Johnson’s role in our carousel collection and specific information on our Herschell machines are on display inside the Recreation Park carousel.
Several of our carousels have undergone painstaking restoration projects. The costly refurbishing of these priceless machines further attests to the commitment of our community to preserve these cultural legacies for future generations to enjoy. Go to the Binghamton Visitor Center at Roberson Museum to learn more about our carousels and our community history.
In 2007, the NYS Department of Tourism recognized our carousels as part of the 25th Anniversary of the NYS Heritage Area System by designating them as part of their “I Love NY Celebrations” program.
C.Fred Johnson Park
98 C.F.J. Boulevard
Johnson City, New York 13790
George W. Johnson Park
201 Oak Hill Avenue
Endicott, New York 13760
801 Hooper Road
Endwell, New York 13760
58-78 Beethoven Street
Binghamton, New York 13901
Did You Know?
Greater Binghamton has the only carousel collection of this kind in the world. Of the fewer than 170 antique carousels remaining in the United States and Canada, six are in Greater Binghamton, New York. Because of the uniqueness of these carousels and the incomparable circumstances of their survival and existence, all six are placed on the New York State Historic Register and the National Register of Historic Places. The admission price: one piece of litter.