The Shoe fits a lot better — thanks to a concrete mogul who helped cement an effort to rehabilitate the crumbling riding circle in Prospect Park.
On Tuesday, workers put the finishing touches on the job, which included the reconstruction of the imperfect circle, located near the park’s southwest entrance, and unofficially called the “Shoe” for its horseshoe shape.
The project was a labor of love for John Quadrozzi Jr., whose budding equestrian daughters grappled with the eroded ring’s sharp turns and poor footing.
As the president of Quadrozzi Concrete and owner of Gowanus Industrial Park, Quadrozzi was in a position to do something about it.
“My 11-year-old used to struggle in the ring,” he recalled. “I said, ‘You know what — it’s an easy fix.’ ”
Quadrozzi reached out to the Parks Department, which wasn’t about to look this gift horse in the mouth.
“This is a really great way to have the private sector help out in this situation — there’s only so much money to go around,” said Tupper Thomas, the Prospect Park administrator. “There are so many big capital projects going in, and this is a very small one, so it works out much better to be done with private dollars so it could be done quickly and easily.”
Well, fairly quickly. The work began in 2008, and was delayed because of weather, as well as adjustments to the plans, which ultimately transformed the horseshoe shape into a uniform oval, with wider turns and straight-aways for a safer ride. Scire Construction donated and installed the ring’s border.
The circle is connected to the park’s 3.5-mile bridle path, which in the 19th century was a place for Brooklynites of all stripes to showcase their horses. The circle’s propensity for falling into disrepair was well known, even then, as loose rocks “could twist the ankle of a spirited mount,” according to Walker Blankinship, the owner of the Kensington Stables, which is located just outside the park’s southeastern entrance.