Published on January 6th, 2014 | by Christopher DeMorro


Vintage EVs Could Replace Horse-Drawn Carriages In NYC

January 6th, 2014 by  

Originally published on Gas2.


New York City is a world-class metropolis with such famous landmarks as Broadway, Times Square, and of course Central Park, where couples can catch a romantic horse-drawn carriage across the city. But those horses and their drivers may soon be out of a job, as newly-elected Mayor Bill de Blasio may replace the carriages with alternatives, like classic electric cars.

This is good news for animal rights activists, who claim that making the horses walk New York’s streets is dangerous and inhumane, as well as electric car advocates who would love to see more EVs in the Big Apple. But for tourists eager for a ride in the famous horse-drawn carriages, it has meant a rush to Central Park before the carriages potentially disappear forever.

As far as vintage electric cars, there are plenty to choose from, as once upon a time electricity was the preferred method of propulsion for automobiles. Around 1900, 38% of America’s nearly 34,000 automobiles were powered by electricity, outpaced only by steam; gasoline-powered cars accounted for just 22% of automobile sales. Of course these early electric vehicles are neither cheap to come by nor comfortable to ride in, given the archaic technology used, leading me to believe that replica antique electric cars would be the better way to go.


As much as I love old vehicles and electric cars, however, I never found the horse-drawn carriages to be either inhumane or dangerous. Accidents involving the carriages are fairly uncommon (a website devoted to fighting horse-drawn carriages lists just six accidents since 2006), and horses have been used to pull everything from cannons to carriages for thousands of years now. I’m not saying whether they enjoy it or not, and I can’t attest to the welfare or conditions of the animals, but what happens to a draft horse when there’s no work to be done? Probably not a nice retirement in a heated stall somewhere, I’ll tell you that much.

Complicated issue, this one, and I’m just not sure what side of the argument I fall on. What say you?

Source: The New York Daily News

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About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

  • Alan Rochette

    Attest to the welfare and the condition of the horses, please read these thoughts.

    I have written an article, a “Note” as it is called on FaceBook.
    For those interested, you may view it here:
    “Thoughts and Facts about the NYC Carriage Horses…”
    Over the past five years, I have not only visited every aspect of the
    NYC carriages & horses, I have been throughout the stables from the
    ground floors to the rooftop…
    I have also visited some of their horses who were away on furlough / vacation in either upstate NY or Pa.
    I have viewed the hackline, and have seen the activists taunting the carriage drivers and their fares.
    I have written numerous Notes / articles pertaining to, and taken over some 600+ photos to date.
    I have never backed down, nor away from the activists.
    For they have not the knowledge nor the insight that I have acquired of these
    “Iconic Horses” within NYC, and of their teamsters… and the families to which they provide for.
    To lose such Tradition, Heritage & History for the sake of mis-truth’s
    being fostered, would be surely the Crime of the Century…
    New York City…
    This is Your heritage, of over 150 years.
    These “working horses” are Living History in your city…
    Your children, your families have a right to continue to enjoy their presence.
    They are the last of the many wonderful working horses which actually built your city.
    Please think about that…
    Talk with a carriage driver, or seek out the officials of the
    Horse and Carriage Association of NYC for the actual truth…

    ~ Alan Rochette

    Read another Note:
    “NYC Carriage Horses” and some of the Real Truth one should understand …

    To support The Famous Horse Drawn Carriages of Central Park, please go to their new web link:
    “SAVE the New York City Carriage Horses!”

  • Ron Grabner

    Oh boy, another car to ride in New York City. This is a tradition that cannot be replaced with another vehicle. These are real people using a skill and knowledge that is dying in this technological world. I for one will not visit New York to ride in an electric vehicle, but I will to ride in a carriage. Let’s not let this be another tradition or landmark that gets laid to waste just because a politician has gotten in to bed with a real estate developer.

  • TheBarnRules

    There are no “electric vintage cars” – not even a prototype – nothing has changed since this was written in October 2011:

  • AAGLAND GmbH & Co. KG

    If you are looking for the right electric driven horseless carriage we
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  • A Real Libertarian

    “Around 1,900,”

    Think that should be 1900

  • Benjamin Nead

    Unless there is some indication that animal abuse is really occurring there, it seems rather alarmist to suddenly push the horse drawn carriages off the stage.
    Perhaps a compromise of attrition could witness a hold on further carriage permits being issued and phasing in a few of these proposed replica antique EVs.

    If the new mayor would like to promote EVs, he might want to rescind a recent misguided NYC edict that outlaws ebikes.

    • Matt

      Maybe the mayor is looking to reduce the horse dropping issue.

      • Benjamin Nead

        I don’t think this is the case, Matt. Everything I’ve heard about this story so far centers around allegations of animal abuse. If these horses are not being fed or housed properly then, yes, something should be done to correct that situation. But are these animal being “abused” simply by having to pull a carriage around. Are these carriages overly heavy? Are the hours these horses are required to work excessive? Are they not receiving proper veterinary care? These are the things we don’t know and details that haven’t been discussed in mainstream media coverage of this story.

        I know horse owners here in Arizona who love their animal like second children, spend considerable amounts of money to provide them with the best care and stable accommodations possible, yet they also saddle and ride them. Does that constitute animal abuse?

        Again, though, former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg pushed through a law last year that outlawed ebikes, while simultaneously initiating a (non-electric) bike sharing program. That was a step forward and two steps backwards.

        • TheBarnRules

          The carriages are not heavy to pull, especially for a horse bred for the purpose. You can see a man pulling one of the carriages here: http://bit dot ly/1cO7PLP

          The horses work 9 hour shifts and a shift consists of walking, a little bit of trotting, and a lot of waiting for passengers. They have, by law, 4 vet visits per year and one dentist (you can read what vets say about the horses here: http://bit dot ly/198JNAd). They cannot work when it is over 89 or below 18 and must be blanketed when the temperature dips below 40. They cannot work when it is
          raining or snowing too hard.

          The NYC carriage horses are regulated by both the NYC Administrative Code / Rules of the City of New York and New York State Agriculture and Market Law. Title 17 Chapter 3 Subchapter 3 of the Administrative Code deals with Rental Horses (riding and carriage) and their oversight by the Health Dept. Title 20 Chapter 2 Subchapter 2 of the Code is their licensing regulations with the Dept. of Consumer Affairs. Title 19 touches on their work on public streets. All these rules and regulations – from at what temperature the horses must be blanketed,
          to how many hours they can work, to where and when they can work, to what the rate card must look like, to specifics about their vet inspections, etc., etc. runs to over 40 pages single spaced.

          The New York City carriage horses are some of the most regulated animals in this country.

          The first citation for “cruelty” in the last THIRTY years (records were not kept prior) was issued last month and it is still under investigation (the horse, Blondie, had thrush).

          There have been three carriage horses that have died as a result of collisions with traffic in the past 30 (that’s THIRTY) years: Chester (1985), Tony (1990) and Spotty (2006). There have been roughly a half dozen other carriage horses who have died while at work in the past 30 (that’s THIRTY) years – most notably Charlie who died of unknown causes in October 2011 (http://tinyurl dot com/cwplyk2), Smoothie in 2007 (from head trauma and shock after spooking into a tree due to a snare drum), Juliet in 2007 (colic), Jackie in 1999 (electrocution thanks to ConEd and stray voltage).

          I am in no way minimizing the death of any horse, but this is a remarkable record. There is no other riding discipline that can come close – NONE.

          The reality is this: this has NOTHING to do with the horses and everything to do with a real estate developer who donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to de Blasio’s campaign and wants the land the carriage stables occupy. You can read more about that here: http://bit dot ly/1iJKwLA and here: http://bit dot ly/1abhEas

          • Benjamin Nead

            Quote: “The reality is this: this has NOTHING to do with the horses and everything to do with a real estate developer who donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to de Blasio’s campaign and wants the land the carriage stables occupy.”

            Thank you for sharing this with us, TheBarnRules. I had a suspicion that there was something more to this story than what we’ve been hearing about in the 30 second TV news clips and short newspaper bylines.

            As a youth, my father and I would visit NYC and, when I was about 10 (time frame 1968/9,) we took one of these Central Park carriage rides. My father grew up in a time when horses were still in competition as transportation with early autos. He also had an immense respect for the welfare of animals under human care. I remember him interviewing the driver after our ride and any concerns we might have had that any of these horses were potentially mistreated were put to rest then.

            It’s a shame that antique electric cars are being pitted in a political battle with these horses. There should be room for both in providing this sort of park tour service.

      • TheBarnRules

        The horses wear diaper bags.

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