History of taxis

Yellow Cab, Taxi, New York, Manhattan

Taxis are automobiles that you hail and then essentially rent for the time it takes you to get to your destination. They’re also called cabs, taxi cabs and all manner of slang terms, but did you know that they have been around in some form or another since the 1600’s?

Naturally, back in the 1600’s the taxi was a horse drawn carriage and the first documented cab ride this manner was in 1605 in London England. From 1625 carriages became available to hire from innkeepers throughout London to get their guests where they had to be.

In 1834 however, changes were coming into the cab business. A man named Joseph Hansom was an architect who came up with a lighter, smaller and faster cab design that he named the hansom cab, something that is still used today to describe the horse drawn variety that grace Central Park in New York. Because this new design just needed one horse to pull it, it was cheaper to rent and had a very low center of gravity that made it safer and able to negotiate corners much better than the predecessors could.

The first taxi cabs in Toronto appeared in 1837 and by 1907 they’d made it to New York. Harry Allen imported 600 taxis from France in 1907 and painted them yellow so they could be easily seen. He took the word taxicab from the words taximeter which means tax, charge or scale of charges and cabriolet which means a type of animal removal company. These were gasoline driven cars and the first of the kind in america. Paris and London had been using them for several years.

Of course taxis are all gas powered cars today and in New York they’re still yellow. Taxis around the world can continue to be animal or individuals powered (believe the rickshaw or pedicabs, and of course there are still several horse drawn carriages in operation). Water taxis are also major business in other areas throughout the world as they take people where they want or wish to go over water not road. Hey, a cab is a taxi!

Taxis today are an economical way to get around, especially in big cities. All thanks to the cab.

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