by Kevin Walsh

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.



chris March 5, 2012 - 3:48 pm

Totally unrelated but itty bit,
The embroidered patch design for the nypd traffic division was a horse’s head in the middle of a wagon wheel.Or was until the mid 70s when they created that brown uniform civilian traffic control unit(“The Brownies”)Many peoples think that was the symbol for mounted cops but they got a different patch design.If you got a parking ticket in the early 70s it was written by a cop with the horses head patch.
But why a horse head motiff when traffic is now all motor vehicles modern times?

greeneyeshade March 9, 2012 - 2:14 am

Would you rather have the other end of the horse?

Darwin mechanic December 20, 2012 - 9:06 am

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julia June 25, 2013 - 11:30 am

I think Stable B is located on willis Avenue between Avon place and Fiedler Avenue in Tompkinsville. Every house has “stables” on the bottom which are currently garages but you can see that it almost looks like Rome the way the houses are over the old “stables” That is my theory.

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