Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Iron Horses of the French Quarter

Blogger's Note: Part of the charm and history of the French Quarter, the cast iron horse head hitching posts are a favorite of tourists and locals alike.  It's one of those quirks of the Crescent City that can go unnoticed, but once you notice one, you will start seeing them everywhere!  Littered throughout the French Quarter and the oldest parts of the Garden District, where streets are still lined with cobblestones.  Enjoy!

When you go to town, turning off your car's ignition is the main thing to do after parking. But in the days of real horsepower, tying up to an iron ring or a hitching post was standard procedure.  These horse head hitching post used to line the streets in Victorian days , usually bolted to a marble piece with a step next to it for ladies and children to have an easier time getting up on the horse that
is stationed at this post.

From Horsing Around: 19th Century Cast Iron Hitching Posts edited by W. Douglas McCombs:
"Selection of a hitching post was an act of personal expression, but one limited to the forms available through the foundries and retailers who sold them, like hardware businesses and agricultural equipment suppliers.  Certain forms were more common than others.  The horse head post ... appear[s] most frequently in catalogs.  The variety of [this] design ... speaks to the ... popularity and to the various pattern carvers who took basic forms and personalized them.   

The horse head was the most common motif.  The variety of horse forms is plentiful, ranging from realistic to stylized and even whimsical.  Some examples are statuesque, like chess pieces, while others have the feeling of movement with flowing manes, open mouths, and expressive faces."