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    POLL: Should New York City ban horse-drawn carriages? Let us know your opinion!

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    Horse-drawn carriages are one of the symbols of New York. Some adore them, others argue that it is nothing more than torturing animals. What is your opinion? Should New York City ban horse-drawn carriages? Trust us in the survey below. But before that, some history.

    History of horse-drawn carriages in New York City

    In New York City, horses are a symbol of a bygone era before the advent of cars, buses and trains. It was during this time that New Yorkers got around from place to place on horseback or by means of horse-drawn carriage. As a result and over time, horses became iconic to the history of Manhattan.

    The carriage tour of Central Park dates back to the opening of the park to the public in 1858. Frederick Law Olmsted designed Central Park’s curving drives to offer beautiful vistas, best viewed from a carriage, at every turn. The park quickly became a favorite of wealthy NYC elites as a venue to drive and show off their fancy vehicles and horses. It also immediately became a tourist attraction for people of all backgrounds from all over the world. Soon, people without horses of their own discovered that the best way to see the 843-acre park was to hire a horse-drawn cab for a trip past its many attractions.

    Should New York City ban horse-drawn carriages?
    Horse-drawn carriage as form of public transport in New York City

    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.

    But… Is it cruel for horses to pull carriages?

    On February 29, 2020, a 12-year-old carriage horse named Aisha collapsed in Central Park. A 15-minute-long video of the incident shows her struggling to stand before she crumples on the side of the road. A trailer arrives to haul her away, and carriage drivers push her inside. Aisha was euthanized later that day. It’s not clear what killed Aisha—one of about 200 horses registered to pull carriages in New York—but her death immediately sparked a firestorm. Animal advocacy group NYClass, which has long opposed the industry, immediately took to social media, circulating the video of Aisha’s death and accusing her handlers of “tormenting” her as she suffered.

    The mutual enmity over Aisha’s death is a microcosm of the controversy that’s long swirled around urban carriage horses, pitting two fiercely opposing viewpoints against each other. Advocates say that modern city streets are no place for horses and claim rampant abuse but offer little proof, acknowledging that they’re only able to see the horses when they’re outdoors working. People in the industry say drivers and owners love and properly care for their horses, yet so much of the animals’ lives are shrouded from public view.

    When Bill de Blasio first ran for mayor of New York City, he promised to ban horse-drawn carriages “on Day 1.” Eight years later, with just six weeks left in office, Mr. de Blasio is trying one last time to fulfill that pledge. His administration is developing legislation that would phase out the use of the carriages in Central Park and replace them with “show cars,” according to a series of internal City Hall emails marked “confidential” that were sent between late October and last week and reviewed by The New York Times.

    Should New York City ban horse-drawn carriages?
    People from the industry:“We love our horses and take good care of them!”

    And what do you think? Should horse-drawn carriages be banned?

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