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TAXI HISTORY
PART 1 : 1890-1930s PART2: 1940-2000
1950
Taxi scene from 1950



By mid-century, taxis were an integral part of urban transportation, with approximately 12,000 servicing the city. Even with an incredible system of subways, busses, trains, and ferries, the taxi still held a prized place in the hearts of tourists and natives alike. In the 1960s the city ordered that all New York City taxis be painted yellow, helping to cut-down on unofficial drivers, and forever changing the Big Apple's image. This new look worked to distinguish taxis from the quickly growing industry of private livery services that began to appear throughout the five boroughs. While livery drivers were barred from picking up people on the street, they found much of their business in the neighborhoods of racial minorities that cabbies often illegally avoided. During this time, both industries found their drivers in the growing populations of Black, Latin American, and Middle Eastern immigrants.

1970-80
Taxi scene from 1970



In 1971 the Taxi and Limousine Commission was founded to deal with the growing number of drivers and to address issues important to both the taxi and livery industries. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s there were a number of taxi-related initiatives designed to make services safer for the drivers, the passengers, and the environment. Violent crimes against taxi drivers had grown steadily up to this time, and the bulletproof partition between the front and back seats became more and more common. While the economy grew the number of taxis remained stable, and by the 1980s the cost of a medallion was more than $125,000. While it was always difficult for drivers to own their cabs, the adverse effects of these increases manifested themselves in the growing number of day-long and week-long leases.

1990


Throughout the last decade, the taxi industry has gone through a number of transformations. Beyond the changing face of immigration, which has brought many South Asians behind the wheel, the government has taken a stronger hand in regulating the industry and driver conduct. While taxi shifts remain as long as twelve hours and few drivers are provided with health insurance, the Taxi and Limousine Commission and Mayor Guiliani have pushed through changes such as restrictions on incense, radios and cell phones. Though greatly protested, many of the new initiatives have recently gone into effect.

2000
Taxi scene from 2000



Today there are 12,187 taxis and some 40,000 drivers in New York City. They are the focus of sitcoms, ad campaigns, news reports and countless anecdotes. With the Checker cabs retired and mini-vans and SUVs in their place, taxis have become a true reflection of their time. They take more than two hundred million passengers almost eight hundred million miles a year. They make more than one billion dollars in revenue and drive passengerless for almost a million miles a night. They maintain twenty-four-hour coverage of one of the biggest cities in the world, and they almost always get you where you need to go.

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