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Notable Moments in Taxi History

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1899: Horseless carriages start replacing hansom cabs; they have 800 pounds of batteries onboard.

Ca. 1915: Rates are 50 cents a mile, or roughly $11.50 today.

1920: GM, Ford, Checker Motors, and Yellow Cab Company dominate the business, owning fleets and manufacturing cars. Yellow Cab’s distinctive color eventually becomes the standard.

1923: The NYPD begins licensing to clamp down on corruption and (the cops say) bootlegging.

1937: 13,566 medallions are issued; each costs $10.

1939: In the film We Want Our Mummy, the Three Stooges somehow take a cab from the Bronx to Egypt.

1956: The iconic Checker taxicab is introduced.

1967: Crime is rising, and the first partitions between driver and passenger appear.

1968: Average ride costs $1.48.

1970s: Ethnic makeup of the driver pool shifts from Jewish-Italian-Irish to black–Latino–Middle Eastern.

1976: Travis Bickle offers an alternative image of the New York hack, trading “wisecracking dispenser of folk wisdom” for “potentially violent loner.”

1982: Checker Motors builds its last taxi.

1990s: Another ethnic shift, this time to South Asian and Russian drivers.

1993: The high-crime years turn deadly. Seven cabbies and 36 livery drivers are murdered on the job.

2005: Transit strike shuts down subways; cab-sharing runs rampant.

2005: The Discovery Channel’s Ca$h Cab! is a cult hit; it runs for six seasons.

2012: Ryan Gosling saves a woman from being hit by a speeding taxi. Twitter implodes.


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