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New York To Lakewood—in Style

July 2024
1min read

The supreme achievement for a Coaching Club member was to own antl drive a public coach that ran regularly between fixed termini on an announced schedule and carried paying passengers. Among the fortunate few who achieved this aim was James Hazen Hyde. For six weeks in the spring of 1903 his coach Liberty —using changes of eleven teams of horses—ran between the Holland House on Fifth Avenue and the fashionable Hotel Laurel-in-the-Pines at Lakewood, New Jersey. The Liberty left New York at 9:00 A.M. on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays and reached Lakewood, some seventy-nine miles away, at 6:10 P.M. Return trips left at 8:30 A.M. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The pleasures of this run were caught by the Germanborn artist Max Klepper in a series of twelve water colors commissioned by Hyde. Six of these are reproduced on the following pages. Hyde—who joined the Coaching Club in 1901 —was one of its most flamboyant members. His father had amassed a fortune as founder of the Equitable Life Assurance Society, and after his death in 1899 young Hyde set out to cut a grand social figure. Two years after he drove the Liberty as a public coach, he gave a costume ball at Sherry’s that was reported to have cost two hundred thoustand dollars. This extravagance shook public confidence in insurance companies, and the heat from an official investigation into their finances forced Hyde to move the base of his revels to Paris. He lived in Europe much of the time until his death at eighty-three in 1959, and never put a coach on the road again.

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