When horses powered New York

The American Museum of Natural History just launched its horse exhibit, which makes this a good time to consider the equine era in New York City. It’s only been 100 years or so since cars and trucks began to replace horses as a major mode of transit above ground. This photo is from 1888; check out the horses pulling streetcars (to Harlem!) at Bowery and Canal. 

Reminders of horse power abound, like this equine water fountain under the 59th Street Bridge. It was built in 1919 for use in the open-air 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.

I only know of two other horse drinking fountains in the city. One is on Central Park South just inside the park off Sixth Avenue; the other sits at the Southeast corner of the park. Both were presented to the ASPCA in the early 1900s. And they both still work!

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7 Responses to “When horses powered New York”

  1. R Chin Says:

    for horses

    hooper fountain

    there’s also the gigantic water fountain (near bethesda fountain) in central park that used to be for horses,
    however, after the restoration 10 yrs ago, horses aren’t allowed to drink from it.

  2. Horses and wagons available in Chelsea « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] old livery stable ad is on its last legs, a faded reminder of when New York City depended on horses for industry and […]

  3. Beth Says:

    If you’ve never seen it, Harold Lloyd’s Speedy, filmed on location in NY, Bronx and Brooklyn in 1928, is about his efforts to save the city’s remaining horse car line from destruction. It’s a lot of fun and the shots of NYC in the ’20s are fascinating. A book just came out last year by John Bengston details then and now scenes from the film.

  4. Lovely fountains for city horses and other animals « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Here are a few other old horse troughs around Manhattan, one in Central Park and another hiding in the East 50s. […]

  5. sam Says:

    Why a cattle head on the fountain if it was for horses?

    • Margaret's Dad Says:

      The bull’s head and cornucopia represent the food market that was here. This fountain would have served the horses that pulled the market carts.

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