How they got here and what goes on inside them.
Yurts Around the World. These interesting and unusual buildings function as studios and classrooms in Glen Echo Park. Yurts have a long history. In Mongolia, yurts have been practical homes for thousands of years. In fact the word yurt means "homeland" or "domain." To nomadic herders of the steppes they were the ideal mobile home. They were portable, strong, and could be insulated from the high winds of the Asian Steppe. Consisting of a framework of saplings and a covering of animal hide, they are bound together with horse hair rope. They could be struck and packed up in thirty minutes and were light and compact enough to be carried by a horse.
Today yurts all share their distinctive but are built in different variations and used in different ways all over the world. Most Glen Echo yurts have a circular skylights at their roof peaks. Some are insulated with sod roofs. They were brought here in 1972 to be assembled for Humanisphere, an 18 month habitat exhibit on the National Mall that was cancelled before it began. At that time, Glen Echo Park was beginning a new life as a park for the arts. These buildings seemed to fit in perfectly and filled a need for studio/classroom space. Today, more than thirty art classes are held in our yurts. Artists and students design, learn, and produce art work.
Romantic Yurt Village. The yurt village of today is in space once occupied by many of the major amusement park rides, including the World Cruise, the Whip, and three versions of the amusement park's most thrilling ride, the roller coaster. The World Cruise (tunnel of love) was located near the point where the path to the parking lot meets the carousel. It was a slow boat ride through the dark that passed by scenic views of far-away places . . . and was a favorite stop for many dating couples in the 1920's-1940's.
The Whip was a popular ride in many amusement parks of the 1920's-60's. A bit tamer than the thrill rides, it let you smash against your partner every time the cars whipped around their track.