There have been carriage rides in Central Park available to New Yorkers and tourists alike for 155 years. Over 10 million carriage rides have been given over the past 30 years. New York City has had 41 mayors since carriages began to operate in Central Park.  

 

 

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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.

Hackney cabs began congregating in hack stands on 59th St. for precisely this park touring purpose, rather than the usual practical purpose of transportation in town. While the upper-class horsey-set tended to enjoy Central Park during the week, Sundays were the purview of the middle and lower classes of New Yorkers, who had to work six days a week. In 1862, City Council, recognizing the demand for horse-drawn vehicles for hire on the Sabbath, granted an exemption to Sunday prohibitions on hack stand licenses, and allowed horse cabs to park on 59th St. at 6th Avenue. This is still “the front of the line,” where today’s horse-drawn carriages line up for passengers and enter Central Park. The Sunday carriage ride in the park has been delighting visitors for more than 150 years.

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. The public, for whom ecofriendly horse-drawn transportation is not something they are accustomed to, gets the chance to meet and learn about real working horses. For many people, their encounter with a New York City carriage horse may well be the only hands-on, up-close-and-personal experience with a horse.

This living heritage on Central Park South must be preserved! Help us keep the carriage horses in NYC.

 

 

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Movies featuring NYC carriages

  • Little Nelly Kelly (1940)

  • Easter Parade (1948)

  • Barefoot in the Park (1967)

  • Hercules in New York (1970)

  • The Goodbye Girl (1977)

  • Manhattan (1979)

  • Falling In Love (1984)

  • Ghostbusters (1984)

  • Muppets Take Manhattan (1984)

  • Home Alone 2 (1992)

  • It Takes Two (1992)

  • Six Degrees of Separation (1993)

  • Money Train (1995)

  • Joe's Apartment (1996)

  • Hell's Kitchen (1998)

  • Kate & Leopold (2001)

  • Elf (2003)

  • Eloise at Christmastime (2003)

  • When in Rome (2010)

  • Friends with Benefits (2011)

  • New Year's Eve (2011)