- Historic Sites
When The Coachman Was A Millionare
In the last quarter of the nineteenth century you could ride in a handsome coach-and-four from a fashionable hotel on Fifth Avenue to Tuxedo Park or even to Philadelphia. The fare was just three dollars, and your driver might be a Roosevelt or a Vanderbilt.
October 1967 | Volume 18, Issue 6
Although the sound of the horn and the jubilant cries of “tally-ho” were heard no more, the end of coaching was not to be the end of the Coaching Club. In 1925, the rules governing the eligibility of new members were amended to permit the admission of anyone “who shall exhibit to the officers of the Club satisfactory evidence that he participates actively in racing, hunting or the sport of polo.” While the qualifications for becoming a member were thus broadened somewhat, the club itself has, if that is possible, steadily become more exclusive. Though the social limelight of the spring parades and of public coaching has faded, membership in the club now confers a quiet distinction that makes it a more coveted honor than ever.
The members still meet regularly three times a year at the Knickerbocker Club (now at Fifth Avenue and Sixty-second Street), and once each spring they turn out in a body for the annual running of the Coaching Club American Oaks, ordinarily held at Belmont Park. Horse-racing may be the sport of kings, but watching it is a far cry from the glories of driving a well-matched team on the open road.
1 Mr. Vanderbilt ran public coaches on the famed Brighton Road in England from 1908 to 1914 and would undoubtedly have continued, but for the war. When he went down on the Lusitania in May, 1915, coaching lost a friend it could never replace.