All Island Blog

The History of Taxis: Cabs throughout the Years

Posted by Collin McGorty on Jul 24, 2019 9:00:00 AM

History of Taxis

If there’s one vehicle associated with transportation, it’s the taxicab. You know them; you’ve used them; and they’re everywhere—especially here on Long Island. However, have you ever wondered about the origins of this universal service? If you have, fear not. We here at All Island have taken it upon ourselves to create a quick guide to the history of taxis—so read along to find out for yourself.

All Island Explores the Storied History of Taxis

The Namesake

No history of taxis is complete without first mentioning their initial invention. Although horse-drawn carriage transportation was used in Europe for many decades before, the term “taxicab” itself was not created until 1891. That is when Friedrich Wilhelm Gustav Bruhn invented the taximeter, the mechanical device that calculates fares based on distance.

Old-time taxi in use

Taxicabs subsequently received their name through the combination of the words “taximeter” and “cabriolet,” which is just another term for carriage. Tracing it back even further, the taximeter got its name from the root of “tax,” meaning “to charge.”

Taxi Cabs in Use

Following the creation of the automobile in the 19th century, motorized taxi cabs with fully functioning meters were invented by Gottlieb Daimler in 1897. His initial creation was actually called the Daimler Victoria.

One of the first taxis

In the years that would follow, these taxi cabs would become prevalent in major European cities, such as Paris, London and Germany. However, it wasn’t until 1907 in the history of taxis that they were first introduced in America—in New York City more specifically.

Taxis in America

In 1907, Harry Nathaniel Allen was the first person to bring a fleet of gas-powered taxi cabs from France to New York City. Although they were originally red and green, Allen would eventually paint his entire fleet yellow. Ever since then, New York City taxi cabs have been synonymous with their bright yellow hue.

Taxis driving in NYC

Although the history of taxis comes from humble beginnings, these days, cabs can be found across the globe in many different shapes and sizes!

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