The Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round Makes Its Return

Readers Ask Chris about local 9/11 memorials, and more

For answers to more of your burning questions, visit the Ask Chris archive.

Q: Did the Griffith Park merry-go-round close for good?

A: Diablo, the Unicorn, and the 66 other hand-carved merry-go-round horses are leaping again after their long COVID nap. While the carousel was closed, co-owner Rosemary West received an offer to ship the 95-year-old attraction out of the country, but she kept the reins firmly in L.A. She spent the time repainting the horses, some of which date to 1895 and feature real horsehair. She enlisted experts to tune the band organ and replace the tractor parts that power the eternal race.

“We need more people to come and have fun. If only we had 3-D glasses, people might feel like they’re going over Mount Rushmore,” West says of the vintage ride at vintage prices. “We need the $2 rides.” West loves hosting parties inside the historic dome, but alcohol is strictly prohibited. “Can you imagine someone getting woozy at 14 miles per hour?” she says.

Q: What’s the biggest 9/11 memorial in L.A.?

A: When the last of the World Trade Center debris was removed, the New York Port Authority held back a few tons for memorials. Fire Station 88 in Sherman Oaks and Rosemead City Hall have I beams from Ground Zero on display. The Reagan library has a 14-foot girder and parts of the airplanes that destroyed it nearby. The Beverly Hills Fire Department has an elaborate sculpture garden with stone replicas of the Pentagon and the Twin Towers—and is hosting a big memorial this month with singers, a flyover, and a 21-gun salute. The “biggest” is probably a massive, 22-foot, three-pronged steel beam from the World Trade Center lobby that sits solemnly outside the LAFD training center in Elysian Park. 

Q: Is there a school built on sacred Indian land?

A: Skulls, unearthed alongside bowls and beads, were often discarded during construction projects until a state ruling in 1974 that protected ancient cemeteries. Human remains continue to rest under a trailer park in Malibu, an equestrian center in Sunland, and even the 405 freeway. “For modern Native Americans,” says archeologist Al Knight, “any site where their ancestors lived and died is sacred.” Knight discovered a pictograph at a school in the Valley but keeps the location secret to deter looters. Bones have been found under what became Playa Vista Elementary School. University High School is home to a centuries-old natural spring that was the center of a village and is now a museum. Tribes gather there every Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

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