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'It's over': New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio vows to ban horse-drawn carriages

Simon Moya-Smith / NBC News

Stephen Malone of New York stands near his carriage and horse on 59th St. near Central Park in New York City on Sunday. Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio said one of his first acts as mayor will be to ban horse-drawn carriages, arguing that it's inhumane to make the horses work the dangerous city streets.

New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio said that one of his first acts after taking office this week will be to ban horse-drawn carriages in Central Park.

Speaking at a news conference Monday, de Blasio said it was inhumane to expose the horses to the city's dangerous streets.

"We are going to quickly and aggressively move to make horse carriages no longer a part of the landscape in New York City," de Blasio said, according to NBC New York. "They are not humane. ... It's over." 

Animal rights advocacy groups lauded de Blasio's pledge.

"We believe that the use of carriage horses in 21st century New York City is unnatural, unnecessary, and an undeniable strain on the horses’ quality of life," Stacy Wolf, senior vice president of the ASPCA’s Anti-Cruelty Group, said in an email to NBC News. 

Carriage operators beg to differ.

Stephen Malone, who's been in the business for 26 years, told NBC News that he anticipates a long and contentious bout with de Blasio over the proposed ban.

"We look forward to having a long battle with him," he said.

According to Malone, who's father began in the business in 1964, there have been only three horse fatalities due to traffic in 30 years.

Malone added that he and and the other carriage owners are willing to sue de Blasio and the city if need be to protect their livelihoods.

One carriage and horse owner, who asked only to be identified as Robert, told NBC News on Monday that the carriage ride is iconic to the city.

"People expect us to be here," he said. "It’s like taking away the Empire State Building. It’s the same as taking the (Christmas) tree from Rock Center."

Since Central Park opened in 1857, horse-drawn carriages have traveled through the park in its sundry narrow passage ways, Sid Kolo, field manager for New York Central Park Tours, told NBC News.

"It's a part of New York history," Kolo said, adding that the industry of selling carriage rides is roughly 100 years old.

Tourists Kathy and Keith Walker of Spokane, Wash., who experienced their first carriage ride on Monday night, also took a dim view of the proposed ban, saying they wouldn't have visited Central Park if not for the carriages.

"We had this (ride) scheduled before we left home," Kathy Walker said.

De Blasio said he will seek to replace the horse-drawn carriages with alternatives, such as antique-style electric cars, according to the New York Daily News.

He added that he will work with the carriage owners during the transition to assure that tourists will continue to get ferried around the park.

Robert scoffed at the idea.

"Just what Manhattan needs -- more cars," he said.

According to the city's website, the mayor of New York has "powers and responsibilities" over land use, including Central Park, which was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1962. But the City Council first must pass long-stalled ordinance prohibiting the equine-powered transport, the International Business Times reported.

De Blasio will be sworn in as the new mayor at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday in his home in Park Slope, Brooklyn.