Philadelphia’s horse-drawn carriages seem like a relic of a different era and they are. Just not the 1776 – let’s-build-us-a-new-country-era – that you might think. While horse-drawn carriages were of course in active use during much of the 18th and 19th centuries, they fell out of fashion at the start of the 20th century with the introduction of the automobile. The horse and buggies you see on the streets today were reintroduced in 1976. A novelty of that summer’s bicentennial celebration that just stuck and a tourist attraction Janet White, founder of Carriage House Freedom, says needs to end.
“We don’t understand the need,” she said. Especially when you consider the harm done to the horses who are often forced to work long hours facing modern-day problems like hot asphalt and endless exhaust fumes. “It’s really harmful,” she said. “It’s time to stop that.”
Instead, Janet had a better idea and she set up a shop in West Chester to build it.
“This carriage is the first step in transitioning away from horse-drawn carriages. It provides all of the charm, with none of the harm,” said Janet.
Caroline saw her first action earlier this summer in Philadelphia’s Independence Day Parade. She has since charmed at various regional festivals and events (up next, Chestnut Hill’s Petapalooza on September 9), but the real goal is to get her on the road. They are in ongoing talks with PennDOT now to hopefully make this happen.
“For the 250, no more horse carriages,” said Janet. “Let’s make this the image of [Philadelphia’s 250 Celebration].”
Originally published, Sept. 8, 2023
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