Two weeks off each year, larger living quarters, and regular doctor’s visits–doesn’t seem like a bad deal, huh?
Especially if you’re a carriage horse.
New York’s carriage horses got a bump in their living conditions when the City Council passed a bill yesterday that substantially improves the standard of living for the horses.
Rates will now go up from $34 for the first 20 minutes of the ride to $50. After that, passengers will be billed at the rate of $20 for every 10 minutes, a jump from $10 for 15 minutes. (It’s the first rate hike in the carriage-horse industry in 23 years.) In addition, automatic cost-of-living increases will now occur every three years.
Other changes? The horses will receive five weeks off each year, an additional vet visit, larger living quarters, and warm blankets. New lights and reflective materials will also be added to the carriages, as will an emergency brake system.
In addition, you’ll have to find another way to impress your date below 34th Street–carriages won’t be allowed there. And you’ll also have to find something else to do between 3 am and 7 am—no carriage rides will take place then.
Members of the Horse and Carriage Association say they support the bill. The carriage horse industry in New York has repeatedly come under fire for what critics say is inhumane treatment of the animals; many people have tried to completely shut down the industry. Although animal advocates say the bill doesn’t go far enough, Mayor Bloomberg is expected to sign the bill into law.
New York’s Central Park Carousel, one of the most iconic and best-loved children’s attractions in the city, will continue to twirl for the foreseeable future: Donald Trump has stepped in to save the famous ride.
New York One LLC was recently forced out as the operator by the Parks Department when they couldn’t resolve maintenance issues; Trump stepped in and will pay the fee of $7,500 a month for the next six months to keep the carousel in motion. (Trump already oversees some of the city’s ice skating rinks; keep your eye on anything else that can be tied down, folks.)
The carousel, located near the middle of Central Park around 64th Street, hosts almost 250,000 riders every year.
Believe it or not, in its original incarnation, in 1871, a mule and horse walking on a sort of treadmill in an underground pit powered it.
No, thankfully, they’re not still there. The carousel was replaced around the beginning of the century by a steam-powered model, which burned down in 1924, as did the next model in the 1950s (Um…fire safety prevention, anyone?)
The current carousel is the fourth one to exist on this site. It features 58 whimsical, hand-carved horses and two chariots, which were made by Solomon Stein and Harry Goldstein in 1908.
It’s still one of the best bargains in the city: $2 for a 3½ minute ride. The carousel opens daily for the season starting in April; until then, visitors can head over on weekends, weather permitting.
Fun fact: Visitors should examine the iron fence that surrounds the open sides of the carousel; a band of small, bright horses decorates it.
OK, New Yorkers, it’s time to think green and healthy instead of brown and salty. If you automatically search out a hot dog cart or a pretzel vendor when you’re in New York’s Central Park, start thinking bananas and strawberries instead.
Starting next month, the city will expand its Green Cart campaign in an effort to get New Yorkers to eat healthier–even on the go.
The new carts, loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables, will be located in areas with heavy pedestrian traffic, including Fifth Avenue between East 80th and East 81st Streets; Fifth Avenue between East 86th and East 87th Streets, and West 100th Street between Lenox Avenue Central Park West. Part of the choice of locations was an effort to draw in tourists who visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Fifth Avenue at 81st Street) and the American Museum of Natural History (Central Park West and 81st Street).
Produce will come from the Hunts Point Market, and will include goodies at competitive prices, such as three bananas for a dollar; mangoes for $1.50; and a half-pound box of strawberries for $2. And if you’re craving all three, you can now try something new: fruit salad will be offered at $3 a pound. (Whether you want to walk around Central Park or the Museum of Natural History eating fruit salad is another story.)
About 30 carts in Central Park already offer snack foods such as pretzels, peanuts, ice cream and hot dogs throughout the park.
New Yorkers’ reactions to the carts is mixed: Some say they’re not likely to buy a banana while strolling through the park, while other applaud the larger selection of healthier, fresher food.
In any event, now you’ll have a choice. A pretzel with a side order of mangoes, anyone?
Now that Tim Burton’s big-screen version of “Alice in Wonderland” has officially opened, New Yorkers are going all out for Everything Alice. But as many New Yorkers already know, we’ve had a monument to Alice—literally–all along.
Wander to the northern end of Conservatory Water (known to many people simply as the boat pond) around East 74th Street, and you’ll see what is perhaps the most famous and certainly the favorite Central Park sculpture of most kids, an homage to Alice in Wonderland.
The statue was commissioned in 1959 by George Delacorte to honor his wife, Margarita. The design is taken from John Tenniel’s original drawings for the first edition of the book.
The bronze statue shows the well-known characters that populate the story: Alice, of course, surrounded by The March Hare, The Cheshire Cat, The White Rabbit, Alice’s cat Dinah, and the Dormouse.
The sculptor, José de Creeft, included lines from Mrs. Delacorte’s favorite Lewis Carroll poem, “Jabberwocky,” around the base of the statue.
The surface of the 11-foot-high sculpture has been worn down by the thousands of children who have climbed, scrambled and swung from it.
Of course, if you’re looking for something a little more avant-garde, you can pop into almost any New York drugstore for a selection of one of the limited-edition lines of nail polish or makeup palettes that have been inspired by the film.
And if you want to dine in “Alice” fashion, check out one of the three Alice’s Tea Cup restaurants/stores. (102 West 73rd Street; 212 799-3006; 156 East 64th Street; 212 486-9200; and 220 East 81st Street; 212 734-4TEA.)
Their specialty? Tea, of course–with an equal dose of whimsy.
How do you vaccinate a raccoon?
Very, very carefully.
A plan to vaccinate raccoons in New York City’s Central Park, Riverside Park, and Morningside Park is underway.
Since December, more than three dozen documented cases of rabies among raccoons have been reported. A dog and two people have been bitten by rabid raccoons since the end of last year; all of those bitten received treatment. The raccoons have been sighted largely in Central Park and upper Manhattan.
The New York City Department of Health says the project is to protect both the raccoons and the community around them.
The raccoons will be caught (humanely) by wildlife experts. They will then be vaccinated, tagged, and released in the same location. (Unless, we hope, they were found wandering around a store on Broadway or some such place.)
The whole process will take four to eight weeks, and will be repeated next summer to vaccinate the raccoons born this spring.
Obviously, people, do not touch, pet, or in any way coo over a wild raccoon should you encounter one, whether it be shopping at the Food Emporium or strolling through the park.
And in other news documenting the fact that wildlife in New York is indeed getting wilder, a trio of coyotes was spotted at Columbia University earlier this month.
Coyotes have also been spotted in New York suburbs, proving that despite the many lures of the ‘burbs, a wildlife-free zone isn’t one of them.
Snow may be falling from the sky…but probably not enough to explain the drifts covering parts of New York’s Central Park today.
From whence the snow? Why, it’s Winter Jam NYC, a free sports festival from 11 am–4pm today near the Bandshell in Central Park (enter at 72nd Street.)
Watch the snowboarders riding the rails at Switch Academy Rail Jam. Head down to the Lake Placid Snow Jam, and strap on cross-country skis or show shoes. Or, what about pretending you’re five and just playing in the snow? ORDA (the Olympic Regional Development Authority, one of the co-sponsors, along with the NYC Parks Department), has been making snow for a week in preparation for the event. So get out there and make snow angels and snow forts and of course, the classic snowball.
Or, if you don’t feel like getting covered in snow yourself, watch “Red Bull Project X,” a documentary about Sean White training for the Olympics in Silverton, Colorado.
And what’s a snow day without hot chocolate? The Pride of New York Winter Market is the place to go. (Free samples will abound.)
In addition, kids can check out the inflatable Slap Shot Booth and perfect their hockey skills; and watch The Skyriders, trampoline acrobats (since when is that a winter activity??)
So come on! Perfect clean snow to play in without worrying about shoveling or getting to work through the resulting slush! How often does that happen in New York?
Today marks the 29th anniversary of the day that former Beatle John Lennon was murdered outside his New York City apartment. Fans are expected to gather all day in Central Park’s Strawberry Fields to remember Lennon and his music. Hundreds of people generally sing songs and leave offerings.
Strawberry Fields was, of course, named after the famous Beatles’ song “Strawberry Fields Forever,” and has become a Mecca for tourists and anyone wanting to pay tribute to Lennon. The 2.5 acres of park land was inaugurated on what would have been Lennon’s 45th birthday—October 8, 1985. The entrance is directly across from the Dakota, his apartment building on Central Park West.
Lennon was killed by Mark David Chapman on December 8, 1980, outside the building. Other tributes around the country today include one in LA at Lennon’s Hollywood Walk of Fame star.
And speaking of Strawberry Fields, a tribute of the same name is taking place throughout this month at B.B. King’s Blues Club and Grill (237 West 42nd Street) in New York City. “Strawberry Fields: A Tribute to the Beatles” occurs at various dates throughout the month. (Call 212-997-4144 for more information.) The tribute bills itself as a “look alike, sound alike” event, complete with music from the group’s first four albums, starting in 1964, and going through the “White Album,” “Abbey Road,” and “Let it Be” years. Appropriate costumes and mop-top hair included.
What’s more iconic than a horse-drawn carriage ride around Central Park? What says “New York” more then the clip clopping of horse’s hooves near the Plaza?
OK, maybe many things, but that’s certainly up there.
It turns out that, as of this winter, more than two dozen New York City carriage horses may be out of a home and therefore, will be out of work (as will their drivers.)
Shamrock Stables, home to the carriage horses, has been ordered by the city’s Housing Preservation and Development Agency to vacate its current space by the end of December.
Thirteen hundred units of affordable housing, 10,000 feet of retail space, and a new school will be moving into the space on West 45th Street.
Manhattan does have four other stables—all located in the west 30s, 40s and 50s–but they’re all full up, especially during the holidays.
It’s not just that the horses themselves take up a lot of room–the 700 bales of hay they eat every two weeks, as well as a great deal of equipment, also needs to be factored in.
The stables will most likely remain open through the holidays, a peak time for the horse-drawn carriages because of both the influx of tourists and the holiday spirit that seizes many New Yorkers. (Ah, a winter ride through the snowy park…)
Animal-rights activists have long protested the stables and working conditions of the horses in the city, while others feel they are an essential part of New York.
In addition, the stables were definitely ready for their close-up: The long-running TV series ”Law and Order” filmed there several times.
Some movies become more beloved and iconic as the years pass (and no, we don’t mean “Ishtar.”) “The Wizard of Oz” falls squarely into that category, however, and this year, the film celebrates its 70th anniversary. Events have already been celebrated throughout the year, but New York is joining in the fun next week with a concert and showing of the film in Central Park.
The concert and screening will take place on Tuesday, September 29 at 7:30 pm in Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield. (Don’t follow the yellow brick road, but do enter the park at 69th Street and 5th Avenue; seating is first come, first served.)
Singer Jennifer Hudson (“Dreamgirls”) and “Dancing with the Stars”’ Julianne Hough will be on hand to serenade spectators with modern (no, we don’t really know what that means) versions of the classic Harold Arlen/E.Y. Harburg songs from the movie. A restored, high-definition version of the film will roll on a giant screen after the concert ends, presented by Netflix and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.
(FYI, a special 2-disc collector’s edition of the film will be released on Blu-ray DVD on Sept. 29 as well; and Netflix is also offering free online viewing of the film on October 3.)
In addition, the movie will be screened again this Saturday, Sept. 26, as part of this year’s New York Film Festival.
Flying monkeys and ruby slippers forever!
Majestic mountains, pristine lakes, endless geysers and streams…Normally, to visit a national park you’d have to buy a plane ticket—or at least a pair of hiking boots. But this week, the national parks are coming to you–It’s National Parks Week in New York. (Yes, it does seem like there’s a week for just about everything; and yes, it does seem like most of them are taking place right about now.)
The week-long event (Sept. 19-27) offers a number of free public events around the city; the major event, “Feel Free: A National Parks Celebration in Central Park,” takes place tonight (Sept. 23) in Central Park’s East Meadow at 7:00 PM; it will feature highlights from filmmaker Ken Burns’ upcoming PBS series “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.” Performers including Jose Feliciano (don’t expect Feliz Navidad), Carole King and Alison Knauss will also be on hand.
Events around the city this week include a program on the impact of the American Revolution on New York at the Federal Hall National Memorial (Wall and Nassau Steets); expect staff in period costumes and a fife and drum corps. (And really, be honest, have you actually ever seen a fife and drum corps before?) You can also go on a tour of park environments at the American Museum of Natural History on Sept. 26 (Central Park West and 81st Street).
(For a full list of events, go to feefree.org)
So who actually needs to go to Yosemite when it has up and come to you?