Since 1980, Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club, founded in Philadelphia’s Strawberry Mansion neighborhood by Ellis “El-Dog” Ferrell, has taught thousands of Philadelphia children and young adults how to ride and care for horses, and all the responsibility that entails. One of the oldest urban riding clubs in the nation, the Club has made a major impact on the city’s culture, and helped inspire the 2021 film Concrete Cowboys.
In 2020, the Club began its search for new land for its horses to graze, after low-income senior housing was built on a vacant lot they had used as a corral. With pro bono co-counsel from Saul Ewing LLP, we represent the Club as they work with city officials and other stakeholders to secure a new space that will serve the needs of their volunteers, the children they serve, the community they have built for decades, and their horses.
On November 21, 2023, we were on hand for the unveiling of brand new stables at The Cliffs in East Fairmount Park. The new space will help ensure the Club can continue to serve the children of Philadelphia for years to come. Our staff attorney Sari Bernstein gave the following remarks:
“Good morning. My name is Sari Bernstein, and I am a staff attorney at the Public Interest Law Center. My organization has had the privilege of representing the Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club as they sought a new home for their irreplaceable Philadelphia institution. The opening of this space marks the continued preservation of an organization that has changed the lives of hundreds of kids and contributed to Philadelphia’s unique tradition of urban cowboys. Thank you to Council President Clarke, Councilmember Jones, the wonderful project coordination team at Philadelphia Parks and Recreation and everyone who made this day possible.
Today’s event is a recognition of the value of this riding club for future generations. Our city is full of local organizations like Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club that are the vision—and in the case of El-Dog—the life’s work of our neighbors. But groups such as Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club can only exist based on their access to land, whether for horses to graze, or in the case of community gardens, to grow food and provide shade. In this beautiful barn and field, we see what is possible when these vital organizations have the opportunity to work in partnership with the City of Philadelphia and local elected officials to not only preserve their missions but to thrive. Thank you.”