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Chicago Considers Banning Horse-Drawn Carriages

UPDATE: Supporters and opponents of the City Hall proposal weigh in

Horse-drawn carriages have trotted along Chicago’s downtown streets for decades, but an ordinance making its way through City Council could outlaw that industry for good.

An ordinance proposed by Alds. Brendan Reilly and Brian Hopkins would prevent the three horse-drawn carriage companies operating in Chicago from renewing their city licenses.

Reilly said the move follows calls of animal cruelty from activists and his own concerns of increasing traffic congestion downtown.

“I don’t think many people contemplated horse-drawn carriages to be co-mingled with semi-trailers and CTA buses and tour buses and Uber and Lyft and taxi cabs and everything else we’ve got out there on the right-of-way.”

Cathy McFadden works for Antique Coach & Carriage in Chicago. She’s operated horse-drawn carriages for 35 years.Cathy McFadden works for Antique Coach & Carriage in Chicago. She’s operated horse-drawn carriages for 35 years.

Municipal law forbids horse-drawn carriage companies from operating when temperatures exceed 90 degrees or go below 15 degrees. Horses also are not allowed to work more than six hours within a 24-hour period.

Larry Ortega, owner of Chicago Horse & Carriage, says a horse-drawn carriage ban would erase a part of the city’s history.

“It’s a part of Chicago now, for 38 – going on 39 years, and families go downtown looking for us,” he said. “And I think it’s going to take a lot of character out of the city and a tie to its past.”

The proposed ban is currently in the Committee on License and Consumer Protection. Reilly said he and co-sponsor Hopkins hope the measure is taken up at the City Council’s meeting next month.

Follow Evan Garcia on Twitter: @EvanRGarcia

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