Considered the heart of the pier for the past century, the Looff Hippodrome stands as a beacon of Byzantine, Moorish and California architecture and, just as when it opened, the historic building's claim to fame remains its longtime ground floor house guest, the Carousel.
To celebrate its 100th birthday, the Looff Hippodrome has created a special day of activities to delight families, pique the interest of historians and architecture buffs, and remind everyone of its unique place in the city's history. At 11am on Sunday, June 12th, the doors will be swung open with the same vigor as when Looff first did the honors back in 1916. However, 100 years later this day-long adventure will beckon all who seek to relive old memories and create new ones, including:
• Riding the Ponies for a Nickel
• Embarking on an Exclusive Tour of the Historic (and rarely seen) Second Floor Carousel Apartments
• Delighting in Limited Edition Brass Ring Potato Chip Sundaes
• Traveling back in time via a Gallery of Historic Photographs and Lithographs
• Posing in a 1920's Photo Booth getting for a photo with Marilyn, Charlie, Popeye and other Pier icons
For eaters seeking a dessert conceived from the opening era, this is a rare opportunity to indulge in a limited-edition sweet-salty potato-chip sundae inspired by Pier history and created by Kevin McCafferty, dessert historian and owner of Soda Jerk's soda fountain. The Brass Ring Sundae is one scoop of salted caramel topped with caramel sauce, one scoop of vanilla ice cream with chocolate, all covered in crushed potato chips with a single chip (the brass ring) on top.
The Looff Hippodrome is on the National Register of Historic Places since 1987 and was declared a Santa Monica Landmark in 1976. “When it first opened, the sound of the band organ from the Carousel could be heard all the way to downtown Santa Monica,” explains Jim Harris, historian for the Santa Monica Pier Restoration Corp. and author of the acclaimed book, Santa Monica Pier – A Century on the Last Great Pleasure Pier. “In many ways, it was and remains the heart of the city and we are excited to celebrate Looff's dream 100 years later. It is a testament to his great vision that the Hippodrome has withstood the test of time.”
In addition to the historic carousel, there are the distinctive second floor apartments (which will be included in tours as part of the celebration). Today, the apartments remain as offices, but were once the coolest series of apartments in the city where only a select few (including the carousel operator) made their home. The cast of characters living this unique beachside life included artists and actors and assorted notables ranging from Colleen Creedon, a longtime political activist, actor Paul Sand and writer William Saroyan. Guests and honorees have included activists Cesar Chavez and Daniel Ellsberg, and it's said that acclaimed singer Joan Baez spent so much time at the apartments that she too was considered a Hippodrome resident.
Hollywood has also found its way to the Looff Hippodrome and its most noteworthy appearance was in the 1973 hit film “The Sting” which magically transported the building to Chicago. Other notable star turns include Sandra Bullock's “The Net,” and “Inside Daisy Clover” starring Natalie Wood and Robert Redford. Of course, it is also reported that the Looff Hippodrome was where Marilyn Monroe would spend hours anonymously escaping the glare of the spotlight and instead joyfully watching as the carousel riders went round and round.
100 years later, the Looff Hippodrome remains an example of timeless design and continues to stand as a testament to Looff's vision. The 100-year celebration will take place on Sunday, June 12, 2016 from 11am – 7:00pm. More information can be found at www.santamonicapier.org