ClaremontRidingAcademy, said to be the oldest continuously operated stable in the United States closed its doors last April and faded into the pages of history.
The stable has been a fixture on the upper west side of Manhattan since it opened as a livery stable in 1892, six years before the automobile began to negotiate city streets. It has operated as a riding academy since the 1920s, giving lessons and renting horses for rides in Central Park.
The ClaremontRidingAcademy was a little-known fixture of the Upper West Side. It was a place where anyone could hire a horse and take it for a trot in the middle of the world’s most famous park.
It was where off-duty NYPD officers could ride shoulder-to-shoulder with Wall Street executives.
It was a slice of nature in the middle of the most urban few square miles of the city.
The landmark building was sold to developers and will now be made into condominiums.
The closing of a half-forgotten riding stables right next to Central Park should have been a cause for city-wide mourning. Instead it merited a few press mentions and then it was gone.
“It’s a unique place and I don’t think there’ll be anything quite like it again, ever,” said Claremont Riding Academy employee, Judithe Martin.
Trainer Karen Feldgus, who has worked at Claremont for more than 18 years, was giving her last lesson at the stable to a group of 10 people who were riding to music.
Feldgus began to cry as the music began playing. ‘These (horses) are all my best friends. I’ve ridden all of them,’ she said.
Only a few horses remained that final closing week. Many were being retired, others sold to their riders and most will move to the PotomacHorseCenter in Maryland.
Riding instructor Sarah-Jane Casey crosses Central Park West Street for a last ride into Central Park with a horse from the Claremont Riding Academy.
Scores of New Yorkers looked on as a dozen Claremont instructors on horseback made their way out of the building for a final ride through Central Park to mark the end of its 115 years as a stable and riding school.
Some watching the procession cheered; some wept; some snapped photographs. One woman called out to the riders: “God bless y’all”.
After 115 continuous years of operation, a piece of New York City history rode off into the sunset.
Only the memories of yesterday now remain.