Friday, January 3, 2014
NYC horses, carriages and stables may vanish
Last week the newly elected mayor of New York City announced his intention to eradicate horse drawn carriages from NYC and replace them with electric reproduction antique vehicles. As with most things, there are two opposing factions in the debate. A major argument supporting the mayor hinges on the principles of animal abuse and neglect as articulated by groups in favor of banning horse drawn carriages. There have also been news reports of animal neglect and illnesses as a result of their management in the stables and their daily use. The argument in favor of continuing the use of horse drawn carriages in NYC hinges on the idea that this is a romantic iconic tradition in New York.
If the horse drawn carriage trade disappears, so will the need for stables in NYC. Today there are very few working stables in NYC. Some small original stables have been converted to homes in little enclaves such as Sniffen Court. Large elegant stables, such as the historic Dakota Stables, were razed under protest to make way for new and lucrative projects on pricey real estate.
This story will evolve over coming months. The final outcome of this conflict is uncertain. Given the various forces in play, however, one senses that the era of horse drawn carriage rides "once around the park" will disappear forever from New York City. Perhaps there are cities elsewhere in the world where horses are treated humanely and this popular experience continues in a humane manner. Perhaps there are applicable lessons for NYC. Maybe the city will end up settling for Disneyland-like electric car rides. We'll see.