—Gwen Bardeen Gethner
Did you know these fun facts about the history of cabs and cabbies in New York?
- The system of cab driving as we know it today started when a hansom driver overcharged a passenger in 1907, sparking the idea for a standardized taxi system.
- Jazz Age cabbies were known for connecting their fares with prostitutes.
- Over 50,000 men held hack licenses for driving cabs in 1931.
- Significant numbers of women first started driving taxis during World War II, when the shortage of male labor provided openings.
- Mike Quill, one of the co-founders of the Transport Workers Union of America, referred to cabbies as “the limping proletariat” because they received little attention from union leaders.
- In the 1960s, the phrase “driving stick-up” meant disabling the meter and then negotiating a fare with the passenger—to the driver’s financial advantage!
Learn about all these and more in Taxi! A Social History of the New York City Cabdriver by Graham Russell Gao Hodges. (P.S.: The book is on sale for 30% off this holiday season, so grab your copy now!)
Gwen Bardeen Gethner is an editorial intern at NYU Press and a Master’s candidate in the History of Women and Gender at NYU.