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New York Daily Photo: Bygones be Bygones
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Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Bygones be Bygones

Horse drawn carriages in Manhattan have been the center of controversy as of late - the COALITION TO BAN HORSE-DRAWN CARRIAGES has spearheaded a campaign to put an end to what they and many others consider an outdated concept that no longer is appropriate. From the Coalition's website:

Carriage horses are out of place in midtown’s congested streets and belong to another century when there were far fewer vehicles and pedestrians. When hansom cabs are mixed with cars, taxis, buses, pedestrians, bikes and emergency vehicles – fire trucks, ambulances and police cars – they are a recipe for disaster.

Business is involved here and where there's money at stake there's bound to be bitter conflict. The carriage industry and owners paint a different picture, stating that the the animals are well cared for, have a long life and are happy. Investigations have shown conflicting reports. An audit by the City Comptroller in 2007, however, did show some horses being maintained in substandard conditions. The fate of the 68 licensed carriages in the city is still in limbo. Mayor Bloomberg defends the industry and the continuation of the carriages. Some have proposed a stabling area inside the park - this seems like it would be a good compromise.
The romance of the past is a powerful force and of course visitors love the idea of a horse drawn carriage ride through Central Park - this is one of those New York City signature activities that many feel compelled to do at least once in their life. But unfortunately, history and romance, no matter how compelling, do not alone justify the continuation of a practice. The circumstances and standards of a society change and I think we all like to believe that our consideration of other humans and animals improves over time - in the final analysis, we me have to let bygones be bygones ...


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