In an unquiet city like New York, Fifth Avenue and 59th Street is especially known for its uproar. Double-decker buses rumble past. Taxicabs honk. Tourists mill. Workers refurbish the Plaza Hotel.
All the while, up to 20 horses quietly stand by, waiting to take passengers on carriage rides in Central Park.
On Friday, one of them bolted after it was apparently startled by a loud noise. The horse, a 13-year-old mare named Smoothie, ran nearly a block, and when her carriage became caught on a tree, she collapsed and died.
Witnesses told reporters that somebody walking past and beating a small drum may have been the source of the noise.