Kensington may be one of the more obscure neighborhoods of Brooklyn, though its diversity, historic architecture, and horses have many stories to tell. Wedged between Flatbush, Prospect Park, and Borough Park, the neighborhood is predominantly residential, with most commerce appearing e on Church Avenue, Coney Island Avenue, and parts of Ocean Parkway. Though gentrification has made its way to Kensington, the area remains one of the more inexpensive rental markets, maintaining much of its historic architecture and character as demographics continue to shift. Here are the top 10 secrets of Kensington, Brooklyn!
1. The Prospect Park Stable is the last remnant of a riding academy from the early 20th century
The Prospect Park Stable, located at 55 Caton Place, is the last remnant of a public horse riding stable from the early 20th century. The stable was built as an extension of a main facility at 11 Ocean Parkway in Windsor Terrace on the border of Kensington. Prospect Park was designed by Olmsted and Vaux to accommodate horses, as evidenced by bridle paths and carriage drives. Adolph Vogt ran the riding academy at the park and served as the proprietor of the Bedford Riding Academy. Because of the growth of automobiles, Bedford Avenue in nearby Crown Heights became off-limits to horse riding. Vogt found a new site in Windsor Terrace at 11-27 Ocean Parkway. The stable at 55 Caton is the last remnant of Vogt’s stable while other parts of the former site have been repurposed for the the East 8th Street footbridge, an indoor roller rink, warehouse, and 8-story residential building.
Prospect Park Stable is now the only remaining stable in the Prospect Park area, the only centrally located stable in Brooklyn, and the only stable accessible by mass transit in New York City. Old Belgian block peeks out from beneath the street pavement. There is a small arena inside as well as an outdoor space at the back of the Stables. Horses can be seen walking near the surrounding streets en route to the Prospect Park Bridle Path.
The stable got new owners in 2018, John Quadrozzi Jr. and daughter Xiana. The Quadrozzi’s performed major renovations to the dilapidated structure and Xiana created horse care and riding programs educated by her attendance at Centenary University’s Equine Studies program. Be•Brooklyn equine is the operating entity conducting youth after-school, summer, and adult program as well as traditional pony rides for youngsters. Helping Hoof, Inc., a new not-for-profit, helps make riding accessible for the physically, emotionally, socially, and economically challenged.
The non-profit also aids in the restoration, enhancements, and signage updates of Prospect Park’s bridle path and riding ring, making it safer for horses and humans. The efforts of the non-profit also call attention to horse riding’s historical prominence in the area. To enhance the stable’s historic relevance to the Park, a new antique style paint-on-brick sign spans proudly across the stable’s entrances with an artist’s rendering of the grandiose Horse Tamer statues at Prospect Park’s Parkside Circle entrances, where Prospect Park Stable horses accessed the Park for over 100 years. Construction of a stable cafe is underway and there are plans to dedicare an entire floor to an indoor arena, and other floors for commercial uses to make the stable economically sustainable.