Santa Monica Pier’s Looff Hippodrome Turns 100

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One of Santa Monica’s most overlooked landmarks is celebrating its one hundredth birthday this year. The Looff Hippodrome tends to get upstaged by the flashier ferris wheel it shares space with on the Santa Monica Pier. However, with the wheel going dark for a month, it’s the perfect time to appreciate the much older attraction with the very silly name.

The Hippodrome, as it turns out, was named for founder and expert carousel carver Charles Looff. As a history of the Hippodrome by KCET points out, it was Looff’s custom-built carousel that for years was Santa Monica’s most popular attraction. The ride was taken out of commission after operation of the pier changed hands, but it was eventually replaced by the perfectly serviceable Philadelphia Toboggan Company #62 carousel that delights the children of today.

1930s Hippodrome
The Looff Hippodrome as it appeared in the 1930s
LA Public Library

Looff opened the Hippodrome on June 12, 1916, and the Santa Monica Pier will be celebrating the Moorish-style building’s first hundred years on June 12 of this year. According to a press release, the festivities will feature 5-cent rides on the historic carousel, potato chip sundaes, photo opportunities, and tours of the second-floor apartments that once offered residents some of the most unique views in all of Los Angeles. The potato chip sundaes, for those wondering, are apparently a tribute to what would have been one of the most popular snacks served at the pier at the time of its opening.

The celebration will begin at 11 a.m., when (as the press release promises) “the doors will be swung open with the same vigor as when Looff first did the honors back in 1916.” Take that, ferris wheel.

Santa Monica Pier

200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA 90401

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