Chicago Stable, Carriage Rides Slated for Closure

After 138 years of operation, the last riding hall and stable in downtown Chicago might be turning out the lights for good. At issue are the carriage rides provided year-round in the Magnificent Mile shopping district, and post-9/11 restrictions placed on the number of carriage parking zones.

Noble Horse Theatre and stable owner Dan Sampson said he feels the three remaining waiting and pick-up sites are insufficient to support the five carriage companies still operating in Chicago, reducing revenue for everyone.

A representative of the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association (GNMAA), an organization of area merchants, said the group has mixed feelings.

"The carriages certainly enhance the ambience and experience people get when they visit, but they can add to the traffic congestion if not properly managed," said GNMAA President and CEO John S. Maxson.

Half of Noble Horse's revenues are generated by the carriages and subsidize the stable's operating expenses. The remainder has been produced by their equine dinner theater performances, which ceased as of Jan. 10.

Although not finalized, the outlook appears grim for the Noble Horse stable. "We're still negotiating with the city, but it doesn't look good," said Sampson.

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Lisa Kemp

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