Service of Real Estate Interests

May 1st, 2014

Categories: Hidden Agenda, Horse Drawn Carriages, Real Estate

Actor Liam Neeson has become the most visible spokesperson to save the horse carriage industry in NYC listing reasons ranging from polls of New Yorkers, 64 percent of whom want to keep the carriages, to the importance of the culture and history of the practice and the fact that only four horses have been killed in 6 million trips in traffic. He pointed out in his New York Times editorial that Mayor De Blasio hasn’t yet met with the operators.

In his New York Times opinion piece “Carriages Belong in Central Park” he concluded: “Before we lose this signature element of New York’s culture and history — instantly recognizable to the millions of tourists who visit our city and contribute to its economy — the least the mayor can do is come down to the stables and see how the horses are cared for. I urge Mr. de Blasio to meet the working men and women whose jobs are at stake and to start a dialogue that will safeguard a future for the horses that the majority of New Yorkers want.”

What I wonder is why, with so many crucial issues to address in a city such as New York, the Mayor picks on this one. One reason was covered in 2008 in a New York Sun article by David Pomerantz, “Company To Weigh In on Horse-Drawn Carriage Debate.” He wrote about the anti-horse carriage theme of a poster campaign by Manhattan Mini Storage: “The horse-drawn carriage industry is arguing that the advertising and fund-raising campaign is part of a plan to outlaw the carriages that ferry tourists through Central Park and on Midtown streets so the storage company can buy the land currently occupied by two carriage stables. The stables are situated near real estate owned by Edison Properties, the company that controls Manhattan Mini Storage.”

And then there’s the 100+ year old building on West 57th Street which housed Rizzoli Bookstore for almost 30 years. In spite of 16,000 signatures asking the Landmarks Preservation Commission to maintain the century old building, according to Gina Bellafante in “Better Off Elsewhere,” the commission “deemed the building…inadequately significant to keep in perpetuity.”

She continued: “The most visible legacy of the Bloomberg era surely will be the slender, glass and steel residential towers now going up 70, 80 and 90 stories over this reach of Midtown. In all likelihood it is one of these buildings that will eventually stand in Rizzoli’s place, a building intended to lure the wealthiest internationalists, who will rotate in and out of the city from Singapore, São Paulo, Mumbai, never staying long enough to pay local income taxes and turning the area, essentially, into the world’s costliest time-share. Ironically, One 57, perhaps the most audacious of these projects, lists Rizzoli on its website as among the area’s attractions, alongside the restaurants Daniel and Petrossian and the jewelers Bulgari and Van Cleef & Arpels.”

Seems to me the city is putting the cart before the horse: Is only one industry running things these days? Is this nothing new? Your thoughts?


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13 Responses to “Service of Real Estate Interests”

  1. Amy Said:

    From the article – “The stables in question are situated on 37th and 45th streets on Eleventh Avenue.”

    Where no horses should ever be, ever.

    I bike those streets and the traffic and noise make it incredibly jarring. I can’t even imagine how a horse feels.

    Funny, I don’t recall people raising this much of a fuss when they closed the Claremont Riding Academy on 89th. So getting rid horses for locals to ride on proper bridle paths in the park is ok, but getting rid of overworked horses strapped to carriages dragging around tourists all day is a travesty?

  2. David Reich Said:

    It’s all really so very simple…. Money talks.

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    The good mayor seems to be stepping deeper and deeper into road apples. First, aiming to close the popular and apparently successful charter schools, soon after, to ban the beloved horses, and now to demolish the Rizzoli Building, again against the wishes of numerous supporters. It would seem he is making every effort to man a campaign against himself. Should he continue along these lines, he may well succeed.

    A friend called his predecessor, “Mussolini Bloomberg.” Asking what he thinks of De Blasio, might bring on a stroke.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I had a large dog when I separated from my husband who had moved out of the city. A friend told me I should give him the dog as I lived in Brooklyn. In addition to long walks, this dog ran after a ball 20 minutes daily. She was a city dog, used to the noise and to walking on sidewalks. She loved going to the country, too. But the noise and soot were fine with her.

    The horses don’t know about bucolic fields….bet they’d be bored!

    Someone might say that you are a danger to yourself and others on your bicycle and should be riding on country roads in Westchester, Connecticut or Long Island…but you don’t live there and neither do the horses.

    I am missing the point because it isn’t about horses–some very smart marketing people know how to ring the animal chimes and ring them they have!

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:


    He may be dumb as a very sharp fox as he needs money from real estate interests to be in politics if, as David noted, it’s all about money which it seems to be.

    I thought Mayor Bloomberg was great and want to give the new mayor a chance but he seems to be addressing the small stuff while missing the big stuff–at least on the surface.

  6. P.J. Brown Said:

    Being of a certain age and enduring a certain degree of frailty, I no longer ride bicycles, and find riding trains and busses perilous. Consequently, I have no choice but to travel by taxi. I spent most of this gorgeous afternoon expensively stuck in traffic trying to get around the city doing chores. The miserableness of the experience made me think.

    Fifty years ago, New York City had a more diversified economic base. Now, it is far too dependent upon more skittish sources of economic activity such as real estate development and tourism. Both are hard to attract and easy lose.

    Fifty years ago, there were concerns that real estate development had out paced the City’s ability to renew its infrastructure. We still do not have a Second Avenue subway, and most of the rest of our stuff is just fifty years older.

    Fifty years ago, Tammany Hall mayors were leading us towards bankruptcy and a bunker mentality as our streets were becoming too dangerous to walk upon. Then, we lucked out and had a run of men like Koch, Giuliani and Bloomberg. Now, not unreasonably, it’s our turn to have another Tammany Hall type.

    Watch out! What goes up, comes down, sometimes with a very big splat. This not a time to be building more buildings in New York City.

  7. Edward Baecher Said:

    I disagreed with a lot of the Bloomberg polices but will always remember him as a good manager. Tale Of Two City’s, attack against charter schools, the horses, the idea to take away from the haves and give to the have nots and so on, will make me remember Bloomberg in a good light.

  8. Amy Said:

    Yes but there are some dogs who wind up being too skittish for the noise levels of the city, and do in fact need to be rehomed. It’s happened to several friends of mine who rescue and foster dogs. Since the dogs are not anyone’s source of income, no one tried to keep an obviously distressed dog in a bad situation.

    I have no problem with horses IN parks, I ride in Pelham Bay and at the Brooklyn stables, but those horses spend their day either in shady stables or being ridden for exercise… not sitting on 59th street waiting in the heat (oh they don’t have to work in excessive heat? Funny – when I worked for Parks and there were heat warnings in effect, I saw them out every day) to clomp around on busy paved streets.

    Let’s not even start on the bike conversation… a traffic rule behaving cyclist, I am no more a danger to others than a traffic obeying car. At least my bike can’t spook and run off. (And if you ever get stuck behind those carriages going back to the west side, you’d see that those horses spook a lot more than people think they do, they just don’t always die afterwards. )

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Seems as though we are stretching ourselves too thin: Building more residences and not adding to subway or bus capacity to support additional residents is foolhardy.

    If you rely on public transportation you must give yourself at least 15 minutes lead time–especially if busses are to take you where you are going. You can stand on Third Avenue in the cold, wet, heat or wind for 20 minutes before a bus comes along.

    I realize that the new buildings are not planning to house people who take busses and subways–but the service people they will hire will. Their limos will be driving on roadbeds that are frankly embarrassing. Someone tossed tar willy nilly into the holes of the wavy street bed on Lexington Avenue fronting Grand Central Station. Who paid for that crummy work?

    The city’s water pipes are aged and need to be upgraded.

    Instead, we talk about horses.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:


    At least Mayor Bloomberg had health–nothing else–in mind when he addressed cigarette smoking and the size of large drinks. Here we speak of horses to rile a passionate animal activist coalition while real estate interests laugh all the way to the bank.

  11. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I can’t help thinking that by arguing the animal issues–I rescued a dog who was being abused in the suburbs [so much so that the sound of a woman’s voice made her shake] and gave her a happy home in NYC where she was spoiled and adored–we are giving joy to the real estate marketers for whom animals are number ten million on a list of their priorities and only a means to their desire for more property.

  12. Iris Bell Said:

    I remember when Rizzoli was on 5th Ave. and announced they were moving to 57th St. People were upset because it was one of the
    most beautiful shops in the city. The Rizzoli people laughed, pointing out that there was nothing special about the building on 5th.

    When they decided to to take that space on 5th they put a lot of money into turning a dull space into the wonderful space everyone loved.

    They said they’d do something as special with the dull space on 57th St. And that’s exactly what they did. It’s funny seeing people reacting in the
    same way again, thinking there’s something worth landmarking about the building.

    I’m looking forward to seeing what Rizzoli does next.

  13. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Good point and fresh perspective and no doubt Rizzoli will do fine and will give welcome work to craftspeople who will transform the new space into something magical.

    But what about the neighborhood it’s leaving–it will become that much more sterile. What about the broader view of city planning affecting infrastructure that no longer accommodates today’s citizens and tourists: Do we really need more humongous residential buildings–and additional residents–in midtown?

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