History of Taxi: A Less Taken Reverse Course

Taxi established itself as a prominent medium of conveyance in New York. Its incessant service has been benefiting millions of people every year in this American metropolis and due to this cab service has created special space in the mind and heart of people of this part of the world.

Probably, taxi is the last road based solution of every rush. Running out of time, call a taxi? Want to reach in time, call a taxi? Want to avoid traffic jam, call a taxi? Searching for safe drive, call a taxi? Seeking for stress free ride, call a taxi?

……taxi, taxi, taxi and hundred times taxi.

Do you know the taxi that you are in right now passed through various stages of reformation? It has more than 200 years of history.

New York witnessed first taxicab in early 19th century. It was a horse-drawn two wheeled cab that used to accommodate two people at a time. It was renowned cab of that time popularly known as hansom.

Late 19th century was a kind of revolutionary era for taxicab as many cab companies plunged into the business with innovation. Steam and gas-powered automobiles were introduced on the road. But the introduction of electric hansom cab won heart of the people over steam and gas-powered vehicles then. By the end of 19th century the Electric Carriage and Wagon Company brought 100 electric vehicles on the road competing with horse-drawn cab.

Less mileage (an average of 11 miles per cab) and high maintaining cost of such electric vehicles paved the way to Yellow Cab Company founded by John Hertz in early 1920s. This was the beginning of modern taxi era with iconic yellow color. Cab drivers were regarded as bad people who used to cheat their customers by taking more fares earlier. Due to this reason their (drivers’) image was so bad that they got the nickname—nighthawks.

Hertz attempted to change the bad reputation of cab drivers by recruiting courteous drivers. This was the time when cab service unfolded the sense of hospitality.

Checker Cab Manufacturing Company later acquired Yellow Cab Company and appeared as a dominating market player for long time to come. It introduced shiny new models of taxicabs such as H, H2 and Model K. Hydraulic brakes, six-cylinder engine and safety glass were some of the prominent features of the then taxis.

DeSoto Motor Company emerged as new market player in the field of taxi transportation in 1930s. Its color, comfort, space and retractable sunroof were appealing factors. It ruled the taxi market till 1940.

New York City witnessed more than 100 of cab companies by 1950s. Checker Cab Manufacturing was the key market player then with its comfortable and nice looking vehicle.

The streets of the city were introduced with few more new models of taxi introduced by Dodge, Ford, Chevrolet and Studebaker in 1960s. Dodge and Ford started dominating the market by the end of the decade whereas Checker was still best choice among beneficiaries.

With the painted slogans in either side “Not Yellow” and “We go anywhere” Gypsy cab emerged as such taxi that was ready to go anywhere in outer boroughs. Medallion cabs used to refuse to go in such areas.

The era of 1970s was regarded as sleazy for cabs. Taxis used to be dirty then. Many magazines and newspaper wrote the story about dirty taxi. It was this decade when the city passed the law stating yellow as official color for all medallion taxis.

Chevrolet Caprice and the Ford Crown Victoria dominated the taxi market throughout 1990s.

The face of cab was changed in 2000 as the streets of the city saw hybrids, SUVs and minivans. Japanese vehicles—Toyota, Honda and Isuzu— started rolling on the roads with passengers.

So, how you feel now? Being in wheels is a matter of history. It is a subject of thanks to all them who played crucial role in the reformation and innovation of cab leading us to this stage of comfort and easiness.

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