Modern-day carriage rides are viewed as romantic, but there was nothing quaint about the pre-car era - the days when cities ran on literal horsepower produced their own sets of severe problems. As this article explains, thousands of pounds of horse manure and urine littered the streets, creating terrible odors, attracting disease-carrying flies, and making it difficult to walk through the streets - the combination of rainy days, poop-filled streets, and long skirts was not a fun one. The sound of hooves and wheels on cobblestones was often deafening in large numbers. In the late 18th century, Benjamin Franklin lamented the “thundering of coaches, chariots, chaises, wagons, drays and the whole fraternity of noise” on Philadelphia streets.
The incredible strains put on horses to deliver goods and passengers around the city gave them incredibly short life-spans, averaging four years in service - and when they dropped dead on the streets, they would often not be picked up for days or weeks, especially in poorer districts. The sight of dead horses littering the streets garnered the sympathy of of Henry Bergh, who in 1866 founded the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Today, cars are one of the biggest urban pollutants, but in the early 19th century the machines were seen as a grand solution to cleaning up the streets from dung, noise, and carcasses.