There’s been a horse fight going on in New York.
The city wants to get rid of the iconic horse-carriages that take tourists around Central Park.
Mayor de Blasio has called the hansom cabs “inhumane” and wants to get rid of the horses and replace them instead with electric, replica antique cars.
The New York Post is reporting that the city is negotiating with the 68 carriage licence owners and offering them compensation with yellow taxi medallions worth about $1 million each to compensate them for shutting down their business. The licences were originally bought for $170,000 to $200,000.
The horse carriage owners have some prominent backers, however.
Actor Liam Neeson wrote a NYT editorial urging the carriages be kept. In all the years the horse-drawn carriages have been in existence, he noted, there have been only four equine deaths when they collided with motor vehicles. There has never been a human fatality.
A majority of carriage drivers and stable hands are recent immigrants, often raised on farms in their home countries. They love their jobs and their horses, and they take pride in being ambassadors for this great city. I can’t help but see the proposed ban as a class issue: Their livelihoods are now at risk because the animal-rights opponents of the industry are well funded by real-estate interests, which has led to speculation that this powerful lobby wishes to develop the West Side properties occupied by the stables.
Neeson wrote that shutting down horse carriages, an entire way of life and a historic industry are under threat.
We should ask whether this is the New York we want to live in: a sanitized metropolis, where local color and grit are thrown out in favor of sleek futuristic buildings and careening self-driving cars?
The horse-drawn carriages have been in New York since the late 1940s.