clinton-park-stables-carriage-horses-untapped-nyc-001The bottom floor of Clinton Park Stables stores off-duty carriages. 

New York is the city that never sleeps, but every person, animal and even machine needs some rest eventually. Ever wonder where everything goes at night? We take a look at the off-duty activities of NYC’s horses, food carts and trucks, trains and buses in this next installment of Cities 101.


clinton-park-stables-nyc-central-park-horses-untappedA carriage horse lays down in his stall at Clinton Park Stables in Hell’s Kitchen. Source: Crain’s.

These four-legged creatures are as much a fixture in the concrete jungle as taxis and police cars. Besides people and dogs–and maybe pigeons–horses constitute perhaps the next largest population of animals on the city streets. Most of them are the Central-Park-based carriage horses, with a smaller percentage being police horses. As of 2011, there were 210 licensed carriage horses pulling 68 licensed carriages. The carriage horses live in one of four carriage-horse stables in Hell’s Kitchen. More than half reside at Clinton Park Stables on West 52nd Street, and dozens more can be found at West Side Livery on West 38th Street and Chateau Farms on West 48th Street.

clinton-park-stables-carriage-horses-nyc-untapped-001The exterior of Clinton Park Stables.

At Clinton Park, carriages are stored on the ground while around 60 horses live on the upper level. There have been conflicting reports on the conditions of stables and the NYC carriage horse industry in general as to whether they provide humane living conditions for the horses.

There are six mounted police units throughout NYC, and the horse troops are stabled throughout the boroughs. One troop of horses are housed at Pier 76 on West 36th Street, a space that is also home to the NYPD tow pound. Other stables are located in Queens’ Cunningham Park, Brooklyn and the Bronx. For over a century, there was also a stable in TriBeCa on Varick Street, but the space was repurposed in 2011 to serve as a temporary general command post for a World Trade Center NYPD team.

police-horse-stable-pier-76-nyc-untappedThe 6,500 square-foot Pier 76 facility houses Troop B along the Hudson River. Source: New York Times.

Food Carts & Trucks

food-truck-commissary-nyc-untappedFood trucks parked at Casablanca Commissary at Hunt’s Point in the Bronx. Source: Casablanca Commissary

The state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene requires food trucks to be parked at a licensed commissary or depot when not in use. Generally, this means the city’s food trucks spend the night outside Manhattan, where there’s more space and prices are more forgiving.

Wafels & Dinges stores its trucks in a 6,000-square-foot space commissary in Brooklyn, where they’re also washed, reloaded and repaired. The guys behind the trucks tell us that they have a night crew of about seven people to maintain the fleet, including a mechanic.

big-gay-ice-cream-depot-untapped-nycThe Big Gay Ice Cream Truck used to park in ice cream truck depots in Greenpoint and the Bronx. Source: Serious Eats

Like Wafels & Dinges, the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck (not out on the roads this summer) made its home in the outer boroughs, namely Greenpoint in Brooklyn and Hunt’s Point in the Bronx. Big Gay Ice Cream’s Doug Quint (check out our conversation with his partner Bryan) explains that ice cream trucks need to be plugged in when they’re not running to keep the freezers cold, and specific depots for ice cream trucks provide parking spots with the necessary 220-volt outlets. Each depot’s commissary also sells napkins and cones for truck owners to restock their cars.

Food carts are also stored overnight in garages, where a monthly space costs between $250 and $300. For the hundreds of carts in the five boroughs, there are only a handful of city-approved commissaries. We spotted one in the East Village next to the Merchant’s House Museum.


pedicab-garage-untapped-nycTaxi Tech garage near the Hudson River also rents pedicabs to drivers.

According to Peter Meitzler of the Manhattan Rickshaw Co., most pedicabs are parked in parking garages or large indoor or outdoor lots that have been reconfigured for such purposes. A small minority may park their pedicabs on the street overnight, but for the most part, these pedicab-specific lots offer the necessary shelter, security and tools in case maintenance is needed. For fleets of pedicabs, the fleet will arrange group storage for each vehicle.


One garage, Taxi Tech at West 57th St. near the Hudson, is open between the hours of 8 a.m. and midnight or 1 a.m. Drivers can come and go as they wish between those hours across these specially-made ramps.


240th-street-subway-yard-nyctransit-untappedThe 240th Street Yard stores 1 trains. Source: NYC Subway

NYC Subway lists over a dozen subway yards throughout the city, including ones at East 180th, 207th, 239th and 36th/38th Streets in Manhattan. Locations in the outer boroughs include yards in Corona, Westchester, Jamaica and Rockaway Park. The largest facility is the New York City Transit Complex at Coney Island, which has three subway yards and repair shops. It’s also an ending point for the B, D, F, G, N, R and Q lines. Long Island Railroad, NJ Transit and Amtrak trains are stored at the Sunnyside Yard in Queens.

r_eosimg_4012_beat15_aThe Sunnyside Yard is owned by Amtrak. Source: Mitch Waxman


There are a number of NYC Transit bus depots throughout the city, including the Michael J. Quill Bus Depot on West 41st St. and 11th Ave and the Casey Stengel Bus Depot in Flushing. Our source formerly at the MTA tells us that each NYCT bus has a decal that identifies its home depot.

Parking is a scarcity for non-NYCT buses. The city Department of Transportation forbids charter buses from parking in Lower Manhattan for more than three hours, so there’s no long-term shelter available for these vehicles. They may park in private lots or stay for less than three hours in certain approved layover locations mainly on the west side.  

Read more from our Cities 101 series about how stuff works in the city. Get in touch with the author @catku

1 Comment

  1. Having taken some 500+ photos over the past two years and more…
    Of not only visiting during the “ClipClopNYC” events, but numerous times in-between.
    And with a life time within and around heavy horses.

    View photos taken this spring, during ClipClopNYC-2013, upon this link:
    By: Alan Rochette

    Comments after touring the stables during “ClipClopNYC-2013”
    and a weekend within and about the carriage horses of NYC.

    “INCREDIBLE. That is the only word that can accurately describe this weekend. These equine athletes are the most friendly, well-adjusted, healthy, and social horses I have ever had the pleasure of being around. The drivers show unbelievable strength and resilience while radical animal rights activists scream “abuse” and spew lies at unknowing tourists. The animal rights organization’s hateful and false messages are damaging and lack facts. How they can look at these horses and not see perfect equine specimens is beyond me. The compassion and love that all people involved have for these horses, is proven in the resulting care their partners receive. I cannot say enough good things about the people, horses, stables, and those who seek the truth about The Famous Horse Drawn Carriages of Central Park and Carriage Horse Facts”
    By: Christina Andersen


    “Yesterday a woman pointed at me and called me an “animal abuser.”
    And you know what? While both you and I know that this certainly is not true, I just smiled and told her to have a wonderful afternoon. I smiled because I am educated, confident, and compassionate about supporting happy and healthy working horses.
    I had the honor of spending this past weekend with others who have dedicated their entire lives to promoting working horses and their human partners. I toured the incredible Clinton Park Stables, where 76 lovely carriage horses live a life of luxury—each and every one of them receives the highest quality care possible, and it definitely shows. After all, who wouldn’t want a job that gives you 5+ weeks of annual paid vacation, top-notch healthcare benefits, and 24/7 room service??
    Not to mention, the admiration of countless people across an incredible city!

    Unfortunately, the NYC carriage industry is targeted by radical animal rights activists,
    especially in light of the upcoming election. Most of these people have never even had contact with a horse, are ill-informed, or are outright lying.”
    By: Brooke Wodrig

    -> “The History Behind The Tradition””The carriage tour of Central Park dates back to the opening of the park to the public in 1859.

    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 840-acre park was to hire a horse-drawn cab for a trip past it’s 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 for the non-horse-owning public celebrates it’s 150th anniversary this year (2013).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 and 5th Ave. 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 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 it’s architect, Olmsted, intended it to be experienced. The public, for whom Eco-friendly 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.
    From: Horse & Carriage Association of New York City

    “They are tremendous in spirit & devoted to their heritage and public service. Providing not only carriage rides, but living history. For history continues to be written in Hoof-prints in NYC.”
    -> Quick facts:

    ~ There are four carriage horse stables in Manhattan, all located on the far west side, on 37th, 38th, 48th, and 52nd Streets. More than half of the carriage horses live in “Clinton Park Stables” on 52nd Street.

    ~ There are about 220 licensed NYC carriage horses. At any given time, about 150 horses reside in the city, while the others are on vacation, or “turn out”, on farms in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and upstate New York.

    ~ There are 68 medallioned carriages.

    ~ The carriages, the medallions, the stables, harnesses and other equipment are all privately owned by individual carriage owners. Most carriage drivers own their own carriage medallion and the one or two horses that they drive. Some owners have a few medallions and hire drivers to drive their other horses and carriages alongside them. There are no large monolithic “companies”. We are small business owners.

    ~ The industry is subject to inspection and enforcement from five separate agencies:
    The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Department of Consumer Affairs, the ASPCA, the NYPD, and the Parks Police.

    ~ Most NYC carriage horses are draft horses or draft crosses, bred for heavy pulling.
    Some are Standardbreds, a large light breed of horse bred specifically for harness work.

    ~ The NYC carriage industry has a stellar safety record.
    Since 1982, horse-drawn carriages have taken nearly 10 million rides or trips, while only three horses and no humans have been killed in the carriage industry as a result of collisions with traffic.

    ~ After their careers as powering the world’s most famous carriage tours, our horses get retired to private homes or to non-profit programs and sanctuaries such as Blue Star Equiculture Draft Horse Sanctuary in Massachusetts. Our horses go on to enjoy trail riding, dressage, pleasure driving, therapeutic riding programs, livery carriage service, or puttering around the farm
    ~ From: Horse & Carriage Association of New York City

    -> On November 21, 2011…

    “The Greater Houston Horse Council”
    motioned, voted, and passed the following resolution at their regular monthly meeting:

    “Resolved that the Greater Houston Horse Council supports the continued viability and operation of the horse and carriage industry in New york City and central Park” **
    ** Steven Long – President of
    Greater Houston Horse Council, Texas
    Editor of “Horseback Magazine”

    Words by Blue Star Equiculture: “We hope that one day when you mention NYC carriage horses it brings a warm and wonderful feeling of partnership, dedication, community and history…”

    -> Editorial / The New York Times **
    “Some Carriages Should Not Be Horseless”
    Published: August 4, 2011

    The horses and carriages were missing from Central Park South on Monday, mid-afternoon.
    “Too hot,” explained a salesman trying to lure disappointed tourists into pedicabs instead.
    “Over 90, they go.”
    This is good news:
    New York’s 210 licensed carriage horses (68 licensed carriages) are not allowed on the street when it is over 90 degrees or under 18 degrees.
    The animals also must take five-week vacations each year at pastures outside the city. They work nine-hour days and get two veterinarian check-ups every year.
    Of course, that’s not enough for some people, who want to do away with this historic business and are becoming increasingly aggressive about it. Anti-carriage protesters stormed the American Girl store on Fifth Avenue last month, ultimately forcing the store to cancel planned carriage trips for customers.
    A taxi recently plowed into the back of a carriage near the Plaza Hotel, seriously injuring the hansom driver (but not the horse). So State Senator Tony Avella and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal did what some politicians will do, they called for a state law to end this “archaic industry.”
    That would whisk a lot of magic out of a trip to New York City for thousands of tourists, and it is not necessary. Riding in hansom cabs is far safer than, say, crossing Delancey at Essex Street or maneuvering a bicycle through rush-hour traffic.
    The horses are well treated and monitored closely by the city. We dropped unannounced into Clinton Park Stables, one of four allowed to provide city carriages, and saw that the horses are treated better than advertised. They have large stalls, water that flows with the nudge of a nose and plenty of hay.

    “These horses were bred to pull a carriage,” says Dr. Dennis Farrell, a veterinarian who helps the city with its large horse population (think police, etc.).

    Some groups want to replace the carriages with electric cars. How dreary.

    As Conor McHugh, the stable manager, said, “That’s all we need in this city — more cars.”
    **A version of this editorial appeared in print on August 5, 2011, on page A22 of the New York edition with the headline: Some Carriages Should Not Be Horseless.

    -> Buck Brannaman on the NYC carriage horses:
    ” Next on my schedule were a couple of young women from MTV and Rolling Stone magazine. One of them asked, “What about those poor horses in Central Park? Don’t you think it’s awful how they have to pull those heavy carriages all day?”
    I had an answer for that question “No, I don’t,” I said, then explained that the Central Park horses are content. Pulling carriages on rubber-rimmed wheels on paved streets is a low-stress job, and the horses are calm and relaxed, not anxiously laying their ears back or wringing their tails. Plus, these horses get lots of attention and affection from passerby. And horses love attention and affection as much as we do.
    The horses that people should be concerned about are the neglected ones that, after the “newness” of ownership wears off, live in box stalls all day. These horses have no purpose, no jobs to do. All they do is eat and make manure. Even prisoners get to exercise more than these horses, and the horses have never done anything wrong.
    If they had the choice, these horses would choose to be carriage horses rather than stand in their stalls. ”
    from: Buck Brannaman, The Faraway Horses, page 251.

    Horseback Magazine has placed numerous stories within their issues.
    Anti-Carriage-Horse Group Releases False Story About Carriage Horse With A “Broken Leg”
    March 23, 2012
    “One of the carriage horses who was pulling a carriage within the park fell and broke his leg….probably got a bullet through the head” ~Elizabeth Forel, CBHDC

    By statements run to the Press like this:
    ” …the Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages, is apparently relying on the account of a “random eyewitness” and claims erroneously in a March 18, 2012 newsletter (http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs054/1101376025369/archive/1109544628072.html) that the horse fell, broke her leg, and is no longer in the industry, insinuating that she met some sort of sinister end. CBHDC President Elizabeth Forel used highly inflammatory language in her release… ”

    And that is how to sell News. That is what are “Headline grabbers”.

    And it is the “Teamsters, the Carriage drivers, the Carriage Industry” as a whole,
    that time after time has to try and rebuke the verbiage and slanderous – erroneous statements.
    Read the whole story here: http://horsebackmagazine.com/hb/archives/14758
    One commenter to the above story wrote:
    Carriage Horse Lover on March 24, 2012 at 10:28 am
    ” Thank you, Horseback Magazine for your accurate report concerning the continued efforts by radical anti-carriage horse extremists to spread lies and unfounded accusations against the responsible and law-abiding carriage horse owners and drivers of New York City.
    As a not-for-profit horse retirement farm operator and a carriage livery owner, I continue to be appalled by the tactics being used by Elizabeth Forel and other people who are against the iconic NYC carriages and horses for various self-serving reasons.
    The controversy they have created, and the lies, misrepresentations and false accusations they make against the NYC carriage horse owners often have repercussions for those of us who drive carriages far, far from NYC. Because we also, have carriage liveries, we often find ourselves being attacked and defamed even though we are thousands of miles away from NYC.
    The anti-carriage coalition in NYC is, in fact, trying to export its brand of anti-carriage radicalism to other cities and towns throughout the country. Forel’s group and Forel herself advises and lends support to various anti-carriage horse groups, or has helped organize coalition chapters in the following cities: St. Augustine, Atlanta, Salt lake City, New Orleans, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, and probably other cities as well.
    Forel’s group as well as other animal rights groups like PETA, Win Animal Rights(WAR), Friends of the Animals, and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF)pose a threat not only to carriage horse livery owners, but to horse owners in general.
    The Coalition to Ban Horse-drawn Carriages is also allied with Horses Without Carriages International, a group whose goal is to eliminate the use of horses to pull carriages for any reason worldwide. Representatives of PETA, WAR, Friends and ALF have publicly stated they are against to use of horses “for human entertainment” for any reason, and they have made statements opposing horse racing, rodeo events, horse shows, show jumping and other equestrian sports and pastimes.
    The official stand of some of the leaders of these groups is that they actually oppose horse ownership as well as the use of horses by people for any reason.
    Thank you for your clear and insightful reporting. I assure you that I believe the vocal opposition to the NYC carriages by Forel and others is “just the tip of the iceberg” as far as their anti-horse ownership and use goals extend. ”

    Again – The Public Was Invited!
    ClipClopNYC !
    For the 2nd year in a row, in March of 2013, the public was invited.
    “ClipClopNYC – A Weekend with the Carriages, hosted by the Horse and Carriage Association of New York City. Join horse-people from all over the country as we share and celebrate the world’s most famous working horses.
    ” …This year’s “ClipClop” promises to be bigger and better than ever. There will be stable tours of both Clinton Park Stables and West Side Livery… ”
    The above were the promotions, the invitation to “ALL”. To see first hand, to learn first hand. To walk into the stables and learn, to ask any question one might desire. How open & honest can one be?

    What kept the anti-horse people from attending? It was the truth & facts evident, within the stables.. that’s what!
    And the whole event, and more, is recorded by myself in some 383 photos of this year. Credited and captioned properly. And as this is an annual event, again next year, the open house invitation will be available to everyone.
    I know of only two requirements.
    1. You must register
    2. You must be polite.

    I ask you… Is that not fair enough?

    The Horse and Carriage Association welcomes you to an open house at Clinton Park Stables on 52nd St., followed by a bus trip down to West Side Livery on 38th St. for a chance to meet our horses, their vets, farriers and caretakers, and members of the industry. “ClipClopNYC-2014” : March 28, 29, & 30th 2014

    By request, for Civic minded groups, News Media, Public figures and the like, tours of the stable(s) can be arranged by contacting the The Horse and Carriage Association of NYC directly.

    My Note as referenced above:

    ClipClop-NYC 2013 photos:

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