Metered NYC Taxis Are 109 Years Old This Month

Posted On Mon, August 15, 2016 By

Posted On Mon, August 15, 2016 By In City Living, History, Transportation

109 years ago on August 13th, one of the cornerstones of New York City life, the first metered taxicab, rolled into the city’s streets. The metered fare idea was born, fittingly, in 1907 when Harry N. Allen was smacked with a five dollar fare ($126.98 in today’s dollars) for being driven a quarter of a mile in a horse-drawn hansom cab. Allen imported 65 gas-powered cars from France, painted them red and green, and started the New York Taxicab Company. The elven hues were replaced by the iconic yellow shortly thereafter so they could be seen from a distance, and a year later 700 cabs were nowhere to be found when you wanted one.

The idea of replacing the hansom cab wasn’t a new one: A small fleet of electric cabs had cruised the streets at the end of the previous century, but the panic of 1907 short-circuited the business, sending the city briefly back to the horse-drawn era.

Allen started the venture with a loan from his stockbroker dad and a handful of powerful backers (William Randolph Hearst among them); the French autos were considered to be superior to the American versions. The original fare was 50 cents a mile–an amount affordable only to the relatively wealthy. Within a decade several more cab companies opened business. The fare was 50 cents a mile, a rate only affordable to the relatively wealthy.

The first drivers sported uniforms designed to look like a West Point cadet’s, and they had orders from Allen to be courteous to passengers. Despite the cars’ early “uncertain safety,” the business a was a huge success, and the rest (including the part about being courteous) is history, which is covered nicely in the 2007 book, “Taxi! A Social History of the New York City Cabdriver,” by Graham Russell Gao Hodges, a former cabbie-turned-history professor.

The following decades saw the colorful life of the New York City cabbie unfold through labor disputes, the dark and dangerous 1970s and ‘80s and many more challenges that don’t show any signs of abating anytime soon, though the iconic yellow taxis are still inseparable from the daily cityscape.

[Via 365 Days of Motoring; NPR]

RELATED:

Tags : ,

MOST RECENT ARTICLES

  • Park Slope co-op with custom bookshelves reaching 18 feet asks $1.65M

    Park Slope co-op with custom bookshelves reaching 18 feet asks $1.65M

    A renovation for this Park Slope co-op left it in lovely condition. The lofty floorplan–which boasts 18-foot ceilings–was taken full ...
  • Weekly highlights: Top picks from the 6sqft staff

    Weekly highlights: Top picks from the 6sqft staff

    Swale floating park returns this spring with a new look Kushner Cos. vision for 666 Fifth Avenue has Zaha Hadid ...
  • Stackable furniture line from Debra Folz Design makes storage stylish

    Stackable furniture line from Debra Folz Design makes storage stylish

    There are all types of stackable furniture out there, and while many of them function perfectly well, they’re not always ...
  • This $4M Riverdale mansion, known as the Esmeralda, was built in 1899 and still impresses today

    This $4M Riverdale mansion, known as the Esmeralda, was built in 1899 and still impresses today

    The historic mansions of Riverdale never fail to impress, and this gem is no exception. Built in 1899 and known ...
  • Renzo Piano’s 565 Broome Street on the rise; the world of Hamilton at Green-Wood Cemetery

    Renzo Piano’s 565 Broome Street on the rise; the world of Hamilton at Green-Wood Cemetery

    After launching sales in September, Renzo Piano’s two-towered 565 Broome Street is finally on the rise. [CityRealty] The quest to ...
  • FREE RENT: This week’s roundup of NYC’s rental concessions

    FREE RENT: This week’s roundup of NYC’s rental concessions

    Upper West Side Beaux Arts Beauty ‘The Willard’ Offering Two Months Free, 1-Bedrooms From $2,996/Month [link] Live at LIC’s Hayden: ...
  • 432 Park would have generated $30M for affordable housing with de Blasio’s mansion tax

    432 Park would have generated $30M for affordable housing with de Blasio’s mansion tax

    Outside of 432 Park Avenue, Mayor de Blasio held a press conference on Thursday to discuss his mansion tax. The ...
  • City reveals garment district rezoning plans, citing incentives to move makers to Sunset Park

    City reveals garment district rezoning plans, citing incentives to move makers to Sunset Park

    At a Manhattan community board meeting Wednesday evening, city officials told garment industry representatives of plans to remove Midtown‘s manufacturing ...
  • The Urban Lens: Behind the counter and into the caves at Murray’s Cheese

    The Urban Lens: Behind the counter and into the caves at Murray’s Cheese

    6sqft’s ongoing series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. ...
  • New renderings revealed for NYCHA’s raised earth Red Hook Houses by KPF

    New renderings revealed for NYCHA’s raised earth Red Hook Houses by KPF

    When Superstorm Sandy hit the community of Red Hook, thousands of residents were left without power and basic necessities for ...
  • Judge once again stops work at Pier 55 over environmental concerns

    Judge once again stops work at Pier 55 over environmental concerns

    If you thought the roller coaster that is Pier 55 was over since construction began in November, you may not want ...
  • Amtrak will provide additional weekend service between Boston and New York

    Amtrak will provide additional weekend service between Boston and New York

    Amtrak will soon offer more weekend service options between Boston and New York, the railroad company announced Thursday. Those who ...

SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTERS

Thank you, your sign-up request was successful!
This email address is already subscribed, thank you!
Please provide a valid email address.
Please complete the CAPTCHA.
Oops. Something went wrong. Please try again later.