A few years ago, when ForgottenTour 16 was swinging through Tompkinsville, Staten Island, we saw this ancient barn-like structure on Swan Street, labeled “Encumbrance Depot” and wondered what it was.
Secret Staten Island has come up with the answer, now that it’s semi-endangered now (every old building on Staten Island is semi-endangered):
In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, the Department of Street Cleaning (later to become the Department of Sanitation) primarily used three types of vehicles to help insure the cleanliness of Richmond Borough: the Garbage Truck, the Ash Cart, and the Street Sweeper. This being before the widespread use of motor vehicles, they were all horse-drawn.
To house the horses, the City built two stables on Staten Island, simply named Stable “A” and Stable “B”. Stable A was built in 1902 on Swan Street, Tompkinsville (as of this writing we have yet to determine where Stable “B” was located) and between the two they housed over 70 draught horses; the “engines” that ran the vehicles that kept the island clean. Stable “A” witnessed the transition from “old” technology to “new”: twenty years or so later, the horses and their vehicles were replaced with more modern gas-powered vehicles. Neighboring properties were purchased and the area was enlarged so that the barn and surrounding lots were (and continue to be) used as a storage area for various Sanitation equipment and vehicles.
Check out the link for more details, and the whole site’s fun too.