Horses in the City (gallery)

  • A horse-drawn omnibus, the first mode of horse-powered public transportation in many American cities. Unknown location and undated.
  • Urban horse stables on Charles Street in Boston. Horse-powered transportation required that city dwellers share urban space with animal residents.
  • Sleigh racing on the Boston Neck, 1854.
  • Conductors pulling a streetcar full of passengers during the equine influenza epidemic, 1872, New York.
  • Carriages awaiting passengers outside of the French line at Horatio and Jane Streets at Pier 42 in New York, c. 1880.
  • Horse carts lined up on Broome Street in New York, 1916. While the 19th century was the century of the horse for urban transportation, the twentieth saw horses operating beside other forms of mobility.
  • Metropolitan Street Railway Horsecar Car Number 97. Horse powered railcars saw their final year of operation in New York in 1917.
  • Carriages under raised trolley tracks, Central Park West and 86th Street, 1925. Even after rail cars faded from use in New York, horse carriages continued to be used.
Throughout the nineteenth century, urban transportation in the United States relied heavily on horses. Horses shared urban spaces with humans and powered new public transit networks.  This gallery tracks the evolution of horse-powered transit from the heyday of horse carts and omnibuses to the early twentieth century, when horse-powered vehicles were elbowed out by electrical and cable cars. 
How did cities have to adapt to accommodate the increasing numbers of urban horses? What changes in urban life did these horses make possible?