horse stable to open in central park

horses and bicycles on main drive, golden gate park, n.d. (photo from SFPL historical photographs collection)

The following excerpt is from a recent article in the New York Times:

‘Central Park is laced with bridle paths and dotted with pastures, and its plants were once fertilized with manure. But though carriage horses trot through it, police horses occasionally patrol it, and wooden steeds gallop around the carousel, horses have not called the park home for more than 100 years.  This summer, they will return.  The Central Park Conservancy has, since last year, been overseeing the construction of a stable in the park, and it is now set to welcome its first two residents.  .  .  .

“We just thought it was really important to keep an equine presence in Central Park,” said Adrian Benepe, commissioner of the parks department, who said it was his idea to build the barn. Mounted officers are effective at crowd control, and their high visibility may be a deterrent to crime, he added.

“The park was built with bridle paths,” Mr. Benepe added. “It’s historically part of what happens in Central Park, and has over the past 150 years.”  Mr. Benepe said this might be a first step to a more expansive vision; the department announced on Tuesday that it was accepting proposals for a privately run riding center in the park.’

via Horse Stable to Open in Central Park –

This article reminds me that there’s nothing quite like a horse to evoke the nineteenth-century nostalgia that underlies our great, urban nature parks! And made me think about the absence of horses in Golden Gate Park lately. In fact, horses were a common sight on designated equestrian paths in Golden Gate Park until the Golden Gate Park stables closed in 2001, after being in operation since 1938.   For now San Franciscans have only ghostly memories of romantic carriage rides and sedate trots through the park.  But it seems that horses may return to the Golden Gate Park Stables before too long.  Local equestrians have plans to renovate the facilities.   For more information on the history of the stables and plans to reopen them:

golden gate park via horse and carriage, n.d. (photo from SFPL)


About fromthethicket

I'm a landscape historian and professor emeritus of landscape architecture, UC Davis. I live in San Francisco.
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