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The identity of New York is defined by several iconic images, such as the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State and even that of sports teams, such as the Giants, the Jets or the Knicks; Nevertheless, the yellow taxis of the Big Apple are recognized worldwide and for several decades.
Those who have spent, even an afternoon in Manhattan, well know that moving through the center of the city could well resemble an obstacle course, a situation that invites us to take a taxi service; Well, at the beginning of the 20th century, maybe the situation was not so different.
Of course, New York cabs weren’t always yellowOf course there were, but also, there were many other colors, such as black, red or even brown. However, that characteristic yellow would come later.
The yellow cabs arrived in New York
We must go back to the year 1907 to be exact. An entrepreneur named Harry Allen, who created the New York Taxi Cab Company in those years, a company that would become the first modern taxi service in the United States.
Allen considered that the first taxis in the Big Apple charged excessive prices, so he made the decision to import 65 French vehicles (gasoline because there were still carriages) to compete seriously in the city.
The new taxi entrepreneur in New York decided to “standardize” all his vehicles, so obviously it is thought that he was the one who popularized yellow, and although it was not exactly like that, without a doubt it was one of the causes that would trigger the later adoption of that color in the city.
The Yellow Cab Company
In more official sources, it is believed that The architect of the yellow taxis in New York was John Hertz, another Chicago-born businessman who founded the Yellow Cab Company.
John Hertz discovered a study carried out by a university in the United States, which determined that yellow was the easiest to see, that is, the one that could attract the most attention.
Hertz, of course, made the decision to paint all his cabs yellow and later, he ended up creating an entire empire in this area, thanks to the fact that his cars were more visible at long distances, added to the good management of the business.
The funny thing is that this was not achieved at first in New York, but first in Chicago, then in Philadelphia and finally in the Big Apple, where it arrived in 1925 and surpassed a fleet of 2,700 vehicles.
His rivals, seeing Hertz’s lead in the business, followed suit, and although he tried to have the exclusivity of color, it was clearly too late.
In 1937 New York regulated the taxi sector From then on, only licensed drivers could serve, and in 1969 Mayor John Lindsay had the cabins of licensed vehicles painted yellow, terminating some other color on official city taxis.
Despite the arrival of VTC companies like Cabify and Uber in New York, which have gained ground in recent years, yellow continues to shine on the streets of the Big Apple.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.