The Salem Willows Gates

The Salem Willows Gates

This beautiful waterfront neighborhood has offered residents a majestic opportunity to 
escape city life and find amusement in their own backyard for more than 150 years. 

The Salem Willows Park remains shaded today by centuries-old European white willows
from which the historic amusement park draws its name. The hilly peninsula that 
composes the area juts into Salem Harbor, and has remained a municipal park since its 
bequest to the City of Salem in 1858. At one time, patients recuperating at a nearby 
smallpox hospital used the area, but it became a summer destination for residents across 
the North Shore beginning in the twentieth century. 

A Bavarian woodcarver by the name of Joseph Brown created the famous Flying-Horse 
Carousel in 1866, however the horses were sold to Macy’s Department Store in New 
York City in 1945 to be added to their famous Christmas displays. 

Rumor has it that Bay Staters were the first Americans to try an ice-cream cone 
introduced at the park by Everett Hobbs and William Eaton in 1906. The park would also 
go on to introduce the nation to Spanish “double jointed” peanuts that live on today as 
both a nostalgic snack and an integral component to Americana entertainment culture. 

For years, the neighborhood has been filled with the smooth sounds of jazz, including 
live performances from a young Duke Ellington played in 1923 as well as appearances by 
Count Basie and Louis Armstrong who both performed at what is now the Willows 
Casino. The park’s musical tradition continues as it hosts a series of popular summer jazz 
concerts annually, including the Salem Jazz and Soul Festival. The park is also home to a 
number of festivals and events each year, including this year’s launch of the Salem 
Seafood Festiva

Today, the Salem Willows still aligns itself with its ancestries. Whether on a trip with 
your family, friends, or school, The Willows is perhaps best captured by its famous E.W. 
popcorn and ice cream stand as well as a popular arcade that remain, including 
modern video games as well as vintage pinball machines, classic Skeeball, and kiddie 
rides. The carousel still operates as well, offering some of its youngest riders their first 
thrilling opportunity to delight in a dash on this classic merry-go-round. 

The Willows is also the perfect place to roll out a blanket, pull out the picnic basket, and 
enjoy an afternoon under the shade of the park’s enormous trees as you gaze out to Salem 
Harbor and the neighboring communities. There are also two beaches that have become a 
prevalent destination for the droves of tourists who flock to this part of Salem for a 
chance to see its sweeping, waterfront views.