We might think of the taxicab as a commonplace occurrence, however the iconic yellow cab hasn’t been around forever.
Over 109 years ago, businessman Harry N. Allen invented the metered fare idea after he was hit with a five dollar cost for a quarter mile ride in a horse-drawn carriage.
In 1907, Harry N. Allen introduced the first fleet of imported gasoline-powered taxicabs into the streets of New York City. Each vehicle was equipped with “taximeters” to charge fees based on mileage.
Allen started his business with a loan from his father and a handful of successful backers (William Randolph Hearst among them).
The cars were initially painted red and green, and the stereotypical yellow taxi color came about in 1967 when New York created a law stating that all taxis should be yellow in order to make them more readily identifiable. This yellow color also prevented fraudulent drivers, since they either had to already own a yellow car or else pay money to have their cars painted.
The original fare was $.50 a mile, which was really only affordable to the wealthy population.
Drivers were required to wear uniforms designed to mirror a West Point cadet and Allen encouraged them to be courteous to all passengers and to offer good customer service.
Within a decade, several more taxi cab companies opened in the footsteps of Allen.
Today, more than 12,000 licensed yellow cabs operate in Manhattan alone, but the fleet has been historically wrecked by labor disputes, racial strife, fierce competition and political maneuvering since it overtook the initial horse-drawn cabs in the early 20th century.
Today, the taxi industry remains critical to transportation around urban areas, especially New York City, where the yellow taxi acts as a global representation of the city at large.
YellowCabNYCTaxi.com Staff Writer