One of the first things Bill DeBlasio plans to do as mayor of New York City is to ban horse drawn carriage rides. I was just reading about the history of the carriage rides through Central Park at Save NYC Horse Carriages. Did you know this tradition that de Blasio wants to destroy goes back more than 150 years?
Hackney cabs began congregating in hack stands on 59th St. for precisely this park touring purpose, rather than the usual practical purpose of transportation in town. While the upper-class horsey-set tended to enjoy Central Park during the week, Sundays were the purview of the middle and lower classes of New Yorkers, who had to work six days a week. In 1862, City Council, recognizing the demand for horse-drawn vehicles for hire on the Sabbath, granted an exemption to Sunday prohibitions on hack stand licenses, and allowed horse cabs to park on 59th St. at 6th Avenue. This is still “the front of the line,” where today’s horse-drawn carriages line up for passengers and enter Central Park. The Sunday carriage ride in the park has been delighting visitors for more than 150 years.
In 1863, the first exclusively tourism-based carriage rides were offered for a fare of 25 cents a passenger. The Central Park stage line operated at that rate for the rest of the 19th century. While the coming of the automobile eliminated horses in other less fortunate cities by the middle of the 20th century, the horse and carriage never disappeared from the Plaza, 5th Avenue or Central Park South. Through the Great Depression, two World Wars, many mayoral administrations, and decades of change, one thing has remained constant in New York: you have always been able to ride in a carriage through Central Park.
Today, the Central Park carriage tour holds much the same appeal as it did a century and a half ago. Touring Central Park in a carriage allows the public to experience the park in the same way that its architect, Olmsted, intended it to be experienced. The public, for whom ecofriendly horse-drawn transportation is not something they are accustomed to, gets the chance to meet and learn about real working horses. For many people, their encounter with a New York City carriage horse may well be the only hands-on, up-close-and-personal experience with a horse. (Read More)
He says he’s doing this in the interests of the horses. That’s a nice story, but as noted yesterday, de Blasio’s motive for destroying all of these jobs appears to be more about money. Which is odd, since those who would benefit from this ban would be the people he campaigned against. At least I’m pretty sure that wealthy real estate developers are among the rich who he thinks need to be taken down a notch or two in the name of reducing income inequality.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s promise to ban New York City’s iconic horse-drawn carriages could backfire, exposing what the newly-elected mayor’s critics suggest is a corruption scandal masquerading as an animal-rights crusade. Defenders of the carriage industry point to a real-estate executive who is one of de Blasio’s major campaign donors as the driving force behind the effort to abolish the carriages.
“It’s got everything a scandal could ever want,” says Eva Hughes, vice-president of the Horse and Carriage Association of New York City. Hughes spent 16 years driving carriages, her husband still drives a carriage, and she says they are fighting a “David and Goliath” battle against the mayor and his big-money backers.
The bad guy in this drama, according to the carriage drivers, is Steve Nislick, chief executive officer of a New Jersey-based real-estate development company, Edison Properties. The company “employs legions of lobbyists to influence city decisions on real estate and zoning in its favor,” journalist Michael Gross reported in 2009, pointing out that two of Edison’s businesses “have multiple locations in the same Far West Midtown neighborhood as the stables where the Central Park horses are housed.” (Read More)
Sorry if it seems like I’m beating a dead horse (no pun intended) over this, but de Blasio is taking hypocrisy to a new level here. He’s one of the biggest offenders when it comes to class warfare and trying to pit the poor against the rich, all the while he’s doing the bidding of a rich real estate mogul who is out to destroy small businesses so he can get even richer. But for guys like de Blasio that’s okay as long as some of that money goes into their campaign coffers. It’s disgusting.
As for destroying a century and a half old tradition, well, since when do progressives have a problem with destroying American traditions?