1884: The Goats that Bucked a Swimming Race in East Harlem

The Hatching Cat

Goat in boat

In my last post about old New York, I wrote about a Newfoundland who almost lost his life while taking part in a swimming race from Randall’s Island to the Harlem Beach Bathing Pavilion in July 1884. Apparently the manager of the Harlem beach, Frederick Kenyon, wasn’t fazed by this close call on the East River, because three weeks later, he invited people to let their goats swim the same race. The prizes included a mammoth cabbage, large turnip, a double-sheet circus poster, and a tomato can.

On August 10, 1884, 11 goat owners led their goats to a float on the East River at 116th Street, where they were to be thrown into the water. The owners struggled quite a bit as the goats butted and kicked and flat-out refused to get into the water.

During all this commotion, a man came rushing out to the float, brandishing a…

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