The exact origin of the original taxicab is hard to pin down. If animal- or human-powered conveyances can be considered taxis, the record goes back thousands of years. The motorized cab did not debut until the end of the 19th century. Modern cab companies are a convenience that we take for granted today, but let’s explore the history of taxicabs from the beginning.
Ancient Cabs Without Wheels
The earliest-known ride-for-hire would be the litter, also called a king-carrier. An open bed, sling, chair or small room was hoisted on poles and carried for miles by human footmen. Historic examples of litter cabs include the Chinese jiao and the Medieval English sedan chair. These wheel-less taxis were typically used to transport people of wealth or importance. Some were so elaborate and heavy, they took up to a dozen men to move!
Horse-drawn wagons, carts, coaches and stagecoaches are among some of the earliest taxis. From the early 1600s to the late 1800s, teams of horse-drawn carriages were a common sight across Europe and elsewhere. Eventually, the sporty hansom cab eventually became the preferred mode of travel-for-hire. With their sleek, single horse design, hansom taxicabs could slip in and out of traffic at a quicker pace than carriages.
During the mid-1800s, wheeled taxis called rickshaws were a common mode of transportation across Asia. Hundreds of thousands of hapless human footmen were available for hire in a wretched and dangerous occupation. Foot-to-pavement rickshaws were eventually banned in most countries out of concern for the workers, and bike-powered and motorized taxicabs now prevail.
The Emergence of the Motorized Taxi
The first gasoline-powered taxi appeared in 1899 on the streets of Paris. By 1907, gas-powered taxicabs had been introduced to the city of New York. The cars were painted in a brilliant yellow hue that is recognized today as the signature color of New York cabs. Present-day taxicabs come in all sorts of colors and styles, and the focus is on customer service.
Looking Into the Future of Cab Companies
The humble taxi has traveled a long and bumpy road to get where it is today. From the ancient cabs of the past to the newest taxis of the future, the aim has always been to provide a safe ride at an affordable rate. Gainesville Cab Company delivers on that promise along with friendly and courteous drivers, and that makes the history of taxicabs completely worth the trip. Please fill out our contact page or call (352) 371-1515 to schedule your transportation needs.