The End of New York's Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides Is Also the End of a Film and TV Era
New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has pledged to ban Central Park's horse-drawn carriage rides when he takes office later this week. Already, people are upset (or, at least, the tourists that news outlets corner on the streets are).
It's iconic New York!, they argue. Like the Empire State Building or the perfect slice of pizza, horse-drawn carriage rides are a Big Apple staple, immortalized in movies and on television as part of quintessential Manhattan.
Take the fairly recent star-stuffed cheeseball rom-com New Year's Eve. Director Garry Marshall made the Central Park carriage ride the movie's very first image, part of an opening montage of iconic New York holiday scenes. Then at the end of the movie, it's this same form of old-timey transportation that (spoiler alert!) helps the guy land his girl.
Sarah Jessica Parker stars in "New Year's Eve," courtesy Warner Brothers.
But romance isn't the only genre that's leaned heavily on the horse-drawn carriage. Ever since they appeared in Woody Allen's 1979 Manhattan, it's become practically a requirement for comedies set in New York to send up the "romantic" carriage ride.
When Tracy suggests that they go on a ride through Central Park, Woody Allen's Isaac sums up pop culture's feelings about these carriages in maybe the best way possible: "This is so corny, I can't believe this. This is what you wanted to do?"
Home Alone 2 (1992)
Naturally, Kevin uses the carriage as a place to hide from his old rivals, the Wet Bandits.
Twentieth Century Fox
It Takes Two (1996)
The climax of this very '90s Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen vehicle features a stolen carriage chase scene.
Warner Brothers Family Entertainment
You know someone doesn't respect their horse-drawn carriage business when they leave Kramer in charge. And then, he feeds the poor horse beef-a-roni.
The Simpsons (1997)
The season 9 episode "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson" ends with a Ben Hur-style car chase through Central Park. In his beat-up car, a disgruntled Homer drives up alongside the rest of the family enjoying, as Lisa puts it, the "perfect way to end our day in New York."
Sex and the City (2002)
New Year's Eve wasn't Sarah Jessica Parker's first time in a Central Park carriage. In the season 4 finale, titled "I Heart NY," Carrie gives Big a proper New York send-off, complete with dinner, dancing, and a horse-drawn carriage ride. The debate rages on. "I can't believe you actually talked me into this: a buggy ride in Central Park. Very corny," Big says. "Nope, classic," she shoots back.
How I Met Your Mother (2010)
Hopeless romantic Ted Mosby includes a carriage ride, along with dinner, ice skating, a show, and "fireworks over the Manhattan skyline" in his dream "super date" — all told in a cringe-worthy song.
30 Rock (2012)
Here the supposedly romantic tradition is inverted when Jack shares a tense carriage ride with his mother Colleen. To take the joke further, as they trade barbs Colleen keels over from a heart attack and dies.
The Mindy Project (2013)
Fox's The Mindy Project used the carriages to take on the question of animal cruelty. Mindy's perfect date is ruined when, this time, the horse has a heart attack and falls over. Theoretically mercifully, a policeman puts Peanut Butter out of his misery with a couple of bullets. The date was ruined, to put it mildly.