Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Claremont Riding Academy

A fixture on the Upper West Side, the Claremont Riding Academy and stables is closing this Sunday after 115 years. It was built in 1892 and is the longest continuously operating horse stable in the country. The West 89th street stables were added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1980 and the New York Landmarks Preservation Foundation in 1992, so the building will remain, but its purpose will change. The owners site decreased membership and increased development in the neighborhood as the reason for the closure.

When I first moved to New York I lived around the corner from Claremont on West 90th street. Because of the one-way streets and the entrance to Central Park at 90th Street, it was not unusual for me to hear the clip-clop of horses outside my window, perhaps the last sound I expected to hear when I moved to the city. But along with the elegant horses came their unmistakable smell, causing me to wonder on particularly hot days just how "fragrant" the city must have been 100 years earlier when horses were the main form of transportation.

At the time I moved to 90th Street, Claremont bordered a community garden that spanned the length of the city block along Amsterdam Avenue from 89th to 90th Street. It was not an unhappy relationship between the gardeners and the stable which produced a lot of organic matter. Residents from nearby projects grew their own vegetables there, everything from greens and beans to corn and tomatoes, and interestingly, almost every plot included flowers. As the gentrification of the Upper West Side expanded north past 86th Street on gritty Amsterdam Avenue it wasn't long before developers bought up the garden and put up a high-rise apartment building in its place. At the time I wondered how the residents of the new building enjoying their balconies would peacefully coexist with the fragrant stables below. I guess that will no longer be a concern.

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At 1:26 PM, Blogger KipEsquire said...

"the building will remain, but its purpose will change"

"Claremont Riding Academy" sounds like a great name for a gay bar. ;-)

At 12:45 AM, Blogger Josie said...

I've heard of the Claremont Riding Academy. What a shame it's closing. I have just read through part of your blog, and I hope it's okay, I will be back to read more. New York is my favorite city in the world. If someone were to say to me, "If you could just beam yourself anywhere right now, and live there, where would it be?" I would have to say New York. Lucky you!

At 9:45 PM, Blogger Bill said...

Photo essay of the last ride in Central Park, Sunday afternoon...here:


At 11:10 PM, Blogger Ashley said...

Hi, I have to say that I was so sad to read your article. I've been away living in England for two years, and I was sssoooo looking forward to having a lesson when I returned to NYC. I tried in vain to google the address as I couldn't remember the exact location and that is how I came across your article. At least I have m y memories of some of my first riding lessons that took place in Manhattan over five years ago. What a shame that is landmark was allowed to close. It is to the detriment of New York City!


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