New York’s Equestrian past

by Kevin Walsh

Until the mid-1890s, and the advent of mechanical transportation, the way to get around NYC was with horses.

Though Dobbin no longer is the backbone of the transportation hub, stables dot the five boroughs, serving bridle paths in nearby parks.

Shown in the title card is the corral at the West Side Chelsea Piers.

Hundreds of dwellings formerly used as stables have been adapted for use as garages, or perhaps even living quarters, like the one at left in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. CENTER: Joval Court, Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn. RIGHT: Corral on St. George’s Road, Lighthouse Hill, Staten Island

Some traces of stables past can be seen in Manhattan, such as the building facade for Beinecke & Co. Stables on Great Jones St, above left. The owner of the building attempted to duplicate the sign to indicate a new business, at right, with mixed results.

But, the real McCoy is still surviving on Greenwich Street and West 10th.

Two telltale signs of NYC’s equine past can be seen on West Washington Place near 6th Avenue in Greenwich Village: a bootscraper (left) and hitching post (right). Before there was a Department of Sanitation, you made do as you could and with all the horses and dogs in the streets, boot scrapers were a necessity.

Hitching posts survive around town, though I can’t vouch for how many are new ornaments and how many date back to the horse and buggy era. Forgotten Fans Stephanie, Michele and Jennifer pose at a hitching post on 78th Street in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. (Photo courtesy Stephanie Rittenhouse)

At the somewhat equine-themed corner of Trotting Course Lane and Polo Place in Woodhaven, Queens, you can find some hitching post recreations.

Not only can you find equestrian themes in the street signs in Woodhaven/Forest Hills…you can find the beasts themselves. Below, some horselovers head back to the 70th Road/Sybilla Street stables after a Sunday jaunt in Forest Park.