Category Archive 'Claremont Riding Academy'

14 Apr 2017

Paul Novgorod, Claremont Owner Dies at 73

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The Times reports:

Paul Novograd, whose reluctant decision to shutter his family’s century-old Claremont Riding Academy in 2007 turned Manhattan into a no-horse town, died on Friday. He was 73.

His death, in Manhattan, was confirmed by his daughter Sasha Brown, who said doctors had not yet determined the cause.

Claremont’s sudden closing left New Yorkers without what had been billed as the oldest continuously operating stable in New York City and Manhattan’s oldest riding school and last public livery.

Claremont had been home to countless horses since it opened in 1892 on the Upper West Side, had trained generations of riders in its arena, and had supplied equine cast members to the Metropolitan Opera and other cultural institutions.

Riders boarded their mounts in stalls that rented for hundreds of dollars, or what people in other cities would pay for apartments. Horses could also be rented for upward of $55 an hour, to hoof it one block north and two blocks east from the Claremont stables, at 175 West 89th Street, to Central Park’s four-and-a-quarter-mile bridle path.

Mr. Novograd saw the deterioration of that path — caused by joggers, bicyclists and others who rediscovered the park after it was rehabilitated — as one reason for the decline in ridership that led him to his painful decision to close Claremont.

“Even if the Parks Department wanted to make it horses only, it’s just too inviting to pedestrians and dirt bikers and people throwing Frisbees and people pushing strollers, and it’s a zoo out there,” Mr. Novograd told WNYC radio in 2007. “And our horses are, thank you, just too polite for zoos.”

What was more, renovations of his 19th-century stables — “what I call woefully authentic,” he said — left him deep in debt.

Designed by Frank A. Rooke as a public livery, the five-floor beige brick Romanesque Revival stable was once sold to the sugar fortune heir Charles F. Havemeyer, who leased it out to West Side families as a place to board their horses and store their carriages. It became a riding school in 1927. …

Paul Novograd, who had learned to ride there as a child, went to work at Claremont only grudgingly in 1972. At the time, as a student of East Asia, he had recently returned from Japan, where he had been studying Zen gardens under a Fulbright scholarship. (He remained an avid gardener.)

Instead of pursuing his dissertation, however, he agreed to help his ailing father run the riding school as well as battle neighborhood decline and the New York City bureaucracy.

The city had in 1961 condemned the property as part of the West Side Urban Renewal Area, and for the next 37 years, the Novograds lived in the building as month-to-month tenants as it crumbled. Paul Novograd maneuvered to preserve the building by placing it on the National Register of Historic Places. Finally, in 1998, the city sold it back to the family after the urban renewal plans were abandoned. …

Paul Jonathan Novograd was born in Manhattan on Dec. 4, 1943, the son of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. His mother was the former Bernice Landau. He graduated from the Horace Mann School and received a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University, where he also nearly completed his doctorate in East Asian studies. He spoke eight languages.

I used to be a customer. Molliter ossa cubent.

Hat tip to Frank Dobbs.

NYM article on the rise and decline of riding in Central Park.

HopperBridlePath
Edward Hopper, Bridle Path, 1939, formerly San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, now privately owned. Sold for $10,386,500 at a Sotheby’s auction in 2012 to allow the SFMOMA to purchase a different Hopper.

10 May 2011

Horses Coming Back to Central Park

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Riding to the Park from the old Claremont Stables

Before the Claremont Riding Academy closed in 2007, you mounted your horse at the stables located between Amsterdam & Columbus on West 89th Street, then rode on city streets, crossing major traffic on both Columbus Avenue and Central Park West in order to arrive at the trails in Central Park.

The rental horses were typically plugs, and left the stable reluctant to move faster than a slow walk, but coming back they would often (in the manner of horses) completely change character, and the rider would be glad that Claremont always supplied them with a double-bit.

Horseback riding in Central Park diminished over the final decades of the last century. The city cut back on maintaining the riding trails, and opened the equestrian trails (sigh!) to pedestrians, joggers, and bicyclists, leading to a ban on cantering.

What do you know? Civilization actually survives in New York City. Some of the people in authority recognized that a major city park lacking horseback riding was missing something important, and they remembered that the Park had been originally designed to incorporate riding trails.

The New York Post reports that the city fathers will be making an effort to restore the availability of horse rentals in Central Park.

Since the closure of Manhattan’s last stable, Claremont Riding Academy, in 2007, it’s been next to impossible to ride off into the sunset without riding the subway to another borough first.

The 4.2 miles of bucolic bridle paths winding through Central Park, around the reservoir and under bridges, are now mostly used by joggers and dog walkers, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe told The Post.

“People will keep walking and running there, but we also want riding — which has been done in the park for most of the past 150 years — to be restored,” he said. “The bridle paths are an essential part of the park’s design and riding is one of its oldest forms of recreation.”

After Claremont closed, the city did sign a deal with the Riverdale Equestrian Centre, to offer trail rides by appointment, but those were infrequent and only done on weekends, Benepe said.

The city now wants a more permanent riding concession.

Each day, horses will be brought to the North Meadow Recreation Center, located in the center of the park near 97th Street, from one of the outer-borough stables.

Prices and hours will be determined by a bidding process and regulated by the city, Benepe said. Proposals are due next month.

City stable owners say it’s a shame the bridle paths have gone to waste.

“These parks were designed to be seen from horseback,” said Walker Blankinship, 40, president of Kensington Stables in Brooklyn.

I used to work in the city, years ago, and some week days I would rise very early, put on my boots and breeches, and ride the subway up to Claremont on the Upper West Side.

The first time I did it, I did not bother bringing a riding crop, and I found my rental horse, appropriately named “Drifter,” unwilling to to do anything. He also (very impolitely) kept trying to run me into low overhanging branches and to scrape me off on the trees. So I finally took advantage of the proximity of those branches. I broke one off, and began employing it as a crop. Drifter bounced around a bit and tried sunfishing, but when he found that didn’t work for him, he settled down to doing his job, and actually began changing gaits. I even managed to get one nice jump out of him.

Hat tip to Bird Dog.


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