Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Revelers, Honking Horns, and Horses

New York City is a strange place during the week between Christmas and New Year's Day. Residents and tourists shuffle around with vacant looks, blowing on New Year's noise-makers and window-shopping. This evening, the city is in a state of total traffic gridlock; this is particularly true anywhere in the vicinity of midtown Manhattan. Main avenues are blocked off to make way for the New Year's Eve spectacle that will be taking place in Times Square. At Columbus Circle (about 17 blocks north of the festivities, and at the southernmost entrance to Central Park), horse-drawn carriages are stuck nose-to-tailpipe in heavy traffic that is being forced to detour. As ever, drivers are in a state of endless road-rage.

If you have never visited New York City, perhaps you think the horses live inside the park in Disney-esque fashion. Not so. They trudge through Times Square--"the Crossroads of the World," where avenues intersect--to and from their cramped and dirty stables on the city's west side. One such stable is at 520 W. 45th Street, the location of the sad-looking mess operated by Ian McKeever. Walk past it, if you dare. Don't be unnerved by the sprawling corner gasoline station that services all of the taxicabs, which then speed back onto the avenue to make a fare.

Visit Google Earth and see the dreadful traffic conditions in which New York City carriage horses are forced to work (search "Times Square.")
I fear for the horses. Every day, they work alongside fire engines, police sirens, buses, and angry drivers. And on December 31, a huge fireworks display in Central Park.

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