NYC – City’s Horse Fountains
Until the 1910s, horses outnumbered automobiles in New York City.
- Today, outside of Central Park’s tourist driven hansom cab industry, and the New York City Police Department’s mounted unit, the New York City horse, has almost become extinct.
- The Bridal Path, in Central Park, has become pedestrianized, and Manhattan’s last stable, The Claremont Riding Academy, which was the oldest continuously operated equestrian stable in New York City, closed in 2007.
However, there are still remnants of the New York City’s former horses. The most interesting, and most often overlooked, remains are the City’s Horse Fountains. Throughout the City, a handful of ornate fountains and simple troughs have outlived their intended recipients.
One reminder of horse power is the equine water fountain under the 59th Street Bridge. It was built in 1919 for use in the open-a market that existed there at the time, a market likely packed with horse carts, which were still a common sight in the 1940s and even the 1950s.
In 1907, Edith Bowdoin, and the ASPCA, sought “to erect a large number of simple, inexpensive drinking troughs [for man and beast] in the most congested sections of the city where they are most needed.” I only found one in Manhattan’s Grand Army Plaza (abutting Central Park).
Perhaps one of New York’s more curious landmarks is the Hopper Fountain which has been restored.
Hooper was both a Harlem booster and an armature historian. Educated at area schools and worked at the New York Tribune, where he began what’s felt to have been the first advertising agency in New York. Hooper used the connections he made at the Tribune to go on to become a successful businessman. When Hooper died in 1889, he willed the cities of Brooklyn and New York $10,000 to construct two fountains “whereat man and beast can drink.”
In 1894, the erection of this simple yet elegant fountain in northern Manhattan helped realize half of Hooper’s philanthropic vision. The fountain, consists of a large round horse trough, a carved pedestal with drinking fountains for pedestrians, cats and dogs and a central Ionic column surmounted by an ornamental globe-shaped lantern and wind vane.
Vandalized in the 1981, the toppled column was broken in half. Following designation of the 155th Street Viaduct, the salvaged fountain elements, were carefully restored. Horses working uptown in Washington Heights could get a long drink from the Hooper Fountain, at 155th Street and Edgecombe Avenue.
At the back is a drinking fountain meant for humans (no spout; it might be the kind that had a communal metal cup attached to it that everyone had to share! Even better, on the bottom on both sides are dog fountains, a nice touch that could accommodate today’s canine-obsessed city.
I am sure that there are many others in the city and hopefully, one day, I will find some others. Here is one I know is in Riverside park