It Was Nice Knowing New York

Bill de Blasio has decided that his first priority as mayor of New York city is to get rid of carriage horses in Central Park. The New York Times, which one reasonably suspects is generally utterly enamored of de Blasio and his plans for a new liberal populism, is aghast. And understandably so:

What makes him think this subject is important enough to occupy his first days in office? More important, what makes him think this is a good idea at all? He’s fulfilling a campaign promise that always seemed tailored to pander to better off, more cloistered New Yorkers.

If I’m sounding grumpy about this, it’s because I am. I grew up in this city and as a boy I marveled at the cage in the Central Park Zoo that held a small, hooved creature and was labeled “Horse.” That sign encapsulated, for me, how little New Yorkers knew about life outside of an urban setting. Why not label the tall brown and green object nearby “Tree”?

People who spend time with horses know it’s not inhumane to make them draw carriages. Obviously, people can, and have, treated animals inhumanely, but the carriage industry has responded well to complaints about the conditions in which its animals live.

As we wrote on Aug. 5, 2011, “The horses are well treated and monitored closely by the city. We dropped unannounced into Clinton Park Stables, one of four allowed to provide city carriages, and saw that the horses are treated better than advertised. They have large stalls, water that flows with the nudge of a nose and plenty of hay.”

Let’s not forget that tourists love the carriages and that locals make a living off them. And it’s worth noting that one of the big driving forces hiding behind the anti-cruelty front of the anti-carriage campaign are real estate developers. Is it possible they want to turn the stables in prime Manhattan locations into far more lucrative condos?

Of course, this is just the beginning of efforts to make New York utterly unrecognizable to those who love it. New Yorkers voted overwhelmingly for de Blasio, so I suppose that one can say that they deserve what they are getting, but still, it is sad to see a great city being brought low by a common and misguided (but is there any other kind?) politician.