When it comes to NYC horse-related history, Cornelius Kingsley Garrison Billings puts the "e" in eccentric. The business magnate, deemed "the American Horse King" by the New York Times, was much more passionate about equines than he was about his inherited gas company. (Who can blame him?)
Like any horse-crazy tycoon would have done...he built an expensive private stable next to the Harlem River Speedway, at the time, a track for horse and carriage racing. The luxurious facility included two posh upper-story suites for Billings and guests and a huge riding and training ring on the ground level. To celebrate completion of the stable in 1903, Billings hosted a lavish banquet at a 5th Avenue restaurant called Sherry's. Black tie was NOT optional, nor were...horses!
More than thirty horses were transported via freight elevator to the space--which had been transformed with fake turf, plants and painted scenery to look like the English countryside. Guests dined on horseback, from trays mounted on their saddles and sipped champagne through rubber tubes from iced bottles in their saddlebags. The horses themselves were not overlooked: as their human counterparts nibbled on trout, lamb, guinea hen and asparagus, the steeds supped on oats presented by equestrian-attired waiters.
Who knew? Read more about this quirky historical event.