Sep 6, 2023 - News

The National Mall carousel is being removed for upgrades

The carousel during sunset

The carousel was built in the 1940s. Photo: Astrid Riecken/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The carousel on the National Mall is being removed for renovations.

Why it matters: The fun attraction could be missing for a while. The Smithsonian says it will return to its spot in front of the Arts and Industries Building in time for the country's 250th-anniversary celebration in 2026.

What's happening: The Smithsonian says that the carousel is being dismantled in stages and will be completely removed by November.

  • The animals and structure are shipping to Carousels and Carvings in Marion, Ohio, to be refurbished to their "original grandeur."
A vertical photo of the horses missing from the National Mall carousel.
The ponies are missing! Photo courtesy of Linda St.Thomas/Smithsonian Institution

The intrigue: The carousel has a civil rights legacy that it ties back to the March on Washington, which took place exactly 60 years ago last week.

Flashback: The current carousel, built in 1947, was first operating in Baltimore at the segregated Gwynn Oak Amusement Park.

  • Following years of protests, the park and the carousel were desegregated on Aug. 28, 1963, the same day thousands marched on D.C. and heard Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.
  • Sharon Langley was under a year old when she and her parents were the first Black family to walk into the park, Smithsonian magazine wrote. Langley's father sat her on the back of a carousel horse, a moment that marked the park's integration.

In 1981, that carousel traveled 45 miles south to replace the original National Mall carousel from 1967.


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