If someone were to ask you what Manhattan was full of, you might have a variety of answers. You could say annoying dirty costumed characters, Duene Reades, bad musicals based on bad movies. But what Manhattan is really full of is traffic.
Traffic isn’t a new problem in NYC, in fact it’s been a problem back to 1880. Back then it wasn’t car causing the congestion, but horses. Back then there were over 150,000 horses living in the city. In a time when busses, subways and yellow cabs were not yet annoying commuters, horses were the only way to get around.
This was thought to be a major problem. As the population of people in the city grew so would the number of horses. As more and more horses navigated the streets, New Yorkers began to wish they were congested. The horses left behind their calling card they all over. The streets, as one observer back then put it, “literally carpeted with a warm, brown matting.” The smell became unbearable. If you think the smell in New York now is bad now, you haven’t smelled anything. One expert predicted by 1930 horse manure would be piled up the the third story of buildings. On the plus side, it would have given King Kong something soft to land on when he fell off the Empire State Building.
Of course, the problem disappeared overnight with the invention of electric and automobiles. By 1912 cars outnumbered horses. Just five years after that the last horse drawn cart was put out to pasture, or turned into glue, whatever you do with old horses.
The only horses you’ll see in Manhattan now are giving carriage rides in Central Park to
suckers tourists and when Sarah Jessica Parker is in town.