The Upper West Side’s rich history attracts those with a passion for architecture and those who are simply interested in doing some sightseeing. From memorials that pay emotive tributes to a carriage stable and a riding academy, the neighborhood’s historic sites offer a unique glimpse into the past. Here are five of the must-see historic sites of the Upper West Side you’ll find while exploring some of the oldest street corners in the area.
Claremont Riding Academy
Designed by Frank A. Rooke in 1892, the Claremont Riding Academy was a four-story carriage stable with a functional basement that housed horses before cars became the popular method of transportation. The academy displays elements of romanesque style in its architecture which was commonly implemented during the late 1800’s. You can find this style of architecture in many other old buildings on the Upper West Side.
When Claremont closed in 2007, it was the last standing public stable in Manhattan and the oldest operated equestrian stable in all of New York. The property is now part of the Stephen Gaynor School and is a designated NYC Landmark as well as a National Register of Historical Places.
Originally built in 1913, this historic site of the Upper West Side honors those men who passed away while protecting the lives of others from deadly fires. The city of New York has suffered through hazardous fires in more than three instances and they resulted in the loss of hundreds of buildings and the lives of multiple firefighters.
The memorial was designed by Harold Van Buren Magonigle and was supposed to be placed in Union Square. However, the monument resides by Riverside Park and features a bronze tablet donated by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals that’s dedicated to the horses that worked alongside firefighters and helped them perform their duties.
On September 11 of every year, the memorial holds a ceremony that honors those firemen that died during the World Trade Center attacks.
Joan of Arc Monument
The Joan of Arc monument is located on 93rd and Riverside Drive, and was unveiled to New Yorkers in 1915. It is an ode to the brave French saint who led her nation’s army to victory. At the time the monument was planned, Europe was at war and the U.S. saw the building of the statue as a peace symbol between America and France. Nowadays, this symbol of union is just as relevant due to the recent terrorist attacks that have taken place in Paris.
The 20-foot tall bronze statue of Joan of Arc is a reminder of the fights we have endured to preserve our Western values and is one of the few statues that honors a woman in NYC. The only other three female statues pay tribute to the legacy of Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, and Gertrude Stein.
St. Agnes Library
Even though St. Agnes is now a branch of the NY Public Library, the same space used to hold a chapel and the original Library for the Blind. After undergoing a major renovation financed by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the building didn’t open its doors as a library until in 1906.
The library’s beautiful arched windows and decor are a reminder of the building’s history even though it has a sleek modern look. Located on Amsterdam Ave, it’s central location make it an ideal spot for studying or reading before heading over to the neighborhood’s museums and Central Park. St. Agnes also comes with a book, cd, and DVD rental system and a huge space where children can read in an environment designed exclusively for them.
Isidor and Ida Straus Memorial
Located in Straus Park, the Isidor and Ida Straus Memorial is an emotive tribute to the couple’s prevailing love. Isidor and Ida were victims of the tragic Titanic sinking incident and even though Ida could’ve jumped on to a lifeboat, she decided to remain next to her beloved husband instead.
Isidor was a sharp businessman who was born in Germany and found success in New York where he became the co-owner of Macy’s along with his brother and served as a member of the US House of Representatives.
Their bronze statue was designed by Augustus Lukeman and serves as a depiction in living memory of their eternal love. Lukeman was a renowned American sculptor who also produced the spectacular World War I monument over in Prospect Park. The memorial is one block away from the Straus’ old residence on the Upper West Side.