History of the Taxi Industry

The United States, a country where people come together on a daily basis to help their fellow man, has industrialized and created an empire known throughout the world as one of the most functioning machines ever made. It’s common knowledge that for a machine to function optimally, every part of said machine has to live up to set expectations. It would be an overstatement to say that the United States’ power and influence come from a single shop or business located in a small town in New Jersey. But just as well, it would be an understatement for me to say that these small businesses and services play no part in the country’s success. One service that continues to deliver assistance to its countless consumers every day is the taxi industry. When taxis come to mind, most people are quick to imagine short and bright yellow cars swallowing customers and spitting them out like a well oiled machine.

The truth is that the taxi industry goes back farther than most think. A large majority of people wouldn’t associate taxis with horse drawn carriages, but both services touch on the same key concept: Get the consumer from the point A to point B of their choice. The only real difference is that one of these two instruments is powered by gas, and the other by one or two majestic beasts. While I could or could not be talking about the taxi drivers, the comparison lies present. There was a point in time when these carriages were known as “hackney carriages”. Stemming from Paris and London in the early 1800s, hackney carriages were the norm in most of Europe. The first documented hackney carriage was in 1605, and while i’m sure that it’s pretty hard to imagine a taxi cab riding around 17th century london, remember that horse drawn carriages are in fact a form of public transportation. While the carriages were used by the number of people who could afford one of their own, it wasn’t until 1635 that Parliament passed the Hackney Carriage Act.

This act legalized horse-drawn carriages for hire. If the similarities still are not clear, let’s take a look at the reason for taxis or hackney carriages being utilized. Taxi cabs are meant to provide those that may or may not have a method of transportation of their own arrive somewhere as quickly and efficiently as possible. This was the same intention behind Hackney carriages, except that it was definitely in a slower speed than that of the gas guzzling beasts of today. As we can see, before cars were ever even invented, the practice of vehicles for public hire was well established in england. Taxis did not exist as automobiles until the mass industrialization that hit the world during the late 1800s. It’s important to note that modern taxis evolved alongside the growth of cars around the world. Cars became more compact and essential for daily life. At this point taxis were a must.

Not every citizen was capable of purchasing a car of their own, making rideshare services a normal part of the world’s newfound automatic lifestyle. It worked like clockwork, hour after hour, day after day, people were getting in and out of vehicles owned by other people. This made getting to work easier and less of a worry. After all of this, the term taxi-cab was not used until 1907 by Harry Nathaniel Allen, the man who imported the first 600 gas-powered taxicabs from France. The term came from the words taximeter and cabriolet. The taximeter, invented by Wilhelm Bruhn in 1891, iis the instrument used to measure the distance and time a vehicle travels. It allows an accurate price for the trip to be determined. Taxis as we known it began to come into fruition at around the early 1900s. Harry Allen was also the first man to own yellow taxis.

The reason he did this was in order for his taxis to stand out from the others. One would think that owning a yellow taxi is as basic as it comes, but back then taxis were normally the traditional colors of the car. It turned out that making his taxis yellow did in fact help Allen’s company stand out from the others. His taxis were identifiable and the bright yellow contrasted with the busy nature of gloomy New York. His competitors began to take the same idea and soon almost all taxis were yellow. In the end, the damage was done. Yellow Taxi Cabs represented the taxi industry, similar to the way pepperoni is the flagship topping when it comes to pizza. Eventually, the city even ordered that all licensed “medallion taxis” be painted the same color. This was instituted in 1967 in order to reduce the amount of unofficial drivers and make the taxis more recognizable. Medallion taxis help the government maintain the status and number of cabs in New York, primarily Manhattan. The reason for the name medallion taxi is because they are mostly known for the small plates, or medallions, that are attached to the hood of each car.

After these laws were in place, finding a yellow taxi was no longer like finding a needle in a haystack. As time went on, taxis continued to evolve, adding bullet proof glass, checkered patterns, and more sizes to accommodate passengers. The history of taxis in New York City alone is a story of its own. Public transportation has grown to something that molds alongside the people around it. It is an industry that seeks to improve its cars and service in order to provide a service that calls for another ride. For example, taxis are now implementing USB chargers for passengers to charge their phones. These changes are rather interesting because they show that a community can cause a change, simply by utilizing a service everyday. Taxis have a history that goes as far back as the establishment of the U.S. It is a system that continues to grow and change everyday. With thousands of taxi companies in the United States alone, taxis have proven to be an asset to daily life for now, and the future to come.