History of Taxis: Why Are Taxis Yellow?

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When most people think of a taxi cab, an image of a yellow sedan immediately comes to mind. While there are some exceptions in certain places (like London, where taxis are black) the most common taxi color is yellow in most places worldwide. In some cities and countries where taxis aren’t painted yellow, the taxi sign placed on top of the roof is usually yellow. The point? It seems that taxis and the color yellow are almost synonymous.

Many people are curious as to why yellow is the most common color choice for taxis. The answer is actually quite simple – yellow is a noticeable color, which helps passengers spot the taxi cabs more easily. There are, however, some facts about the yellowness of taxis you might not know.

The History of Taxis

The history of taxis goes back further than the automotive industry. Paris was one of the first cities to have taxis in 1640. London was also early to adopt a taxi system early. The Hackney Carriage Act, a set of regulations regarding taxis, was published as early as 1935! These early taxis were horse drawn carriages with drivers, as no cars existed at the time.

Cars became more popular around the late 1800’s. Although the first available cars were still slow and very expensive. Most middleclass working people were unable to afford a family car at the time. This created a good business opportunity for German inventor and entrepreneur Gottlieb Daimler, who started the first metered taxi company in the year 1897. Daimler invented his own automobile which he used for his taxis. He bought meters to measure the trip distances and travel times from another German inventor, Wilhelm Bruhn.

In 1891, the German inventor Wilhelm Bruhn invented an instrument to measure the amount of time or distance a vehicle has travelled. He called his invention a taximeter, and it allowed taxi drivers to determine rates for fares in a fair and precise manner. The similarity between the word taxi and the word taximeter is quite noticeable. This naming similarity is no coincidence though, as modern taxis are named after the taximeter.

Interestingly enough, Daimler’s contribution to the automotive industry stretches much further than the inception of the first metered taxis. Daimler’s automotive company, the Daimler Motor Corporation is still one of the biggest players in the automotive industry worldwide to this day.

Daimler Motor Corporation was made infamous for the production of Carl Benz’s patented car, which is considered to be the first car ever engineered. This was the result of an agreement between Carl Benz and a Daimler sales agent named Emil Jellinek in 1926. This agreement subsequently led to the inception of the Mercedes-Benz brand. Daimler Motor Corporation still owns the Mercedes-Benz brand.

Although cars weren’t very common or accessible before Henry Ford developed and introduced his Ford T model to the market in 1908, automotive taxis were popular in many cities around the world prior to Ford’s T model. In fact, in 1899, there were approximately 100 motorized taxis operating in the streets of New York City.

Even after the Ford T model became an affordable as a family car, the taxi industry still grew. Affordability can be relative, so many families still couldn’t afford to have a car, whereas other individuals simply enjoyed the ease and comfort of using a taxi cab.

Why Are Taxi Cabs Yellow?

Although the history of automotive taxis goes back to 1897, taxis weren’t always yellow. The yellow taxi cab was first introduced in 1915 by a car salesman named John Hertz. Hertz started selling cars in 1904. He soon found himself with a number of trade in cars, which he decided to use as taxi cabs in order to make automotive transportation more affordable to the wider public. By 1907, Hertz had seven trade in cars running in his fleet.

Hertz decided to put the color of his taxis to the test. He wanted to unify his fleet by painting all the cars in the same color. To make the cars stand out, he aimed to paint the cars in a color that can could easily be spotted.

Hertz decided to paint his taxis yellow because of a study by a Chicago university to establish what color would grab the attention of passersby more easily. The results proved that yellow with a touch of red was most noticeable. As a result, Hertz started to paint all his taxi cabs yellow and went on to start the Chicago-based Yellow Cab Company in 1915.

Hertz later went on to expand his business into the rental car business. In 1954, Hertz purchased a Chicago based car rental company named Rent-a-car Inc., which was originally founded by entrepreneur Walter L. Jacobs. He renamed his company to The Hertz Motor Corporation and expanded his business over time. Eventually, Hertz’s car rental company grew to one of the biggest globally and is still a household name in car rentals in modern day times.

The interesting fact about Hertz and his car rental company is that two major players in the development of the taxi industry owned businesses that are still well-known today: Hertz and Daimler. While Hertz and Daimler’s contributions to their bigger companies are well-known, few people know how the yellow taxi industry developed simultaneously with other advancements in the automotive industry. Also interesting is that both Daimler and Hertz started with taxi companies, expanding into other automotive industries later on.

Yellow Taxis Before Hertz

While Hertz was first to base the color of his taxis on a study, many taxis were painted yellow before Hertz’s. A lot of taxi fleet owners believed yellow to be a superior color that made taxis easy to recognize.

New Yorker Albert Rockwell started a taxi company in 1908. His wife, Nettie, liked the color yellow and suggested that Rockwell paint his taxis this color, along with a signature R on the doors to distinguish his taxis. Rockwell believed that his wife’s suggestion would help his taxis stand out, as yellow is a bright color. Albert Rockwell incorporated his company under the name, Yellow Taxi Cab Company in 1912, three years prior to Hertz’s Yellow Cab Company in 1915.

Before Rockwell’s yellow taxis. Taxis were painted all kinds of different colors. Each taxi company had their own unique way of painting. One of the first taxi company founders in America, Harry Allen from New York, painted his taxis in red and green.

Regardless of the fact that Rockwell most likely had the first yellow taxis, it was Hertz who popularized the color.

By 1969, New York City had restrictions on the colors that taxis were allowed to be. Yellow was the color of choice.

What Color Are Taxis in Miami?

Like most other US cities, Miami sports bright yellow taxis. Companies such as Miami-based Yellow Taxi Miami is one of the popular choices among local residents and tourists alike.

With rates as low as $2.95 per mile, Yellow Taxi Miami offers a highly affordable and easy-to-use taxi service in the greater Miami area. Arrangements can also be made for taxis to drop off and pick up passengers from the airport. Yellow taxi Miami offers commute to all of Miami’s most popular beaches, shopping centers and other attractions.

To make a scheduled appointment for a taxi or inquire about taxi services, you can contact Yellow Taxi Miami to learn more.

Are Yellow Taxis Really More Noticeable?

According to scientific research, red is the least noticeable color at a distance. Green is one of the colors that the human eye can most easily pick up during the day. The only problem with using green is that natural surroundings such as trees and grass are also green, which makes it more difficult for the color to stand out.

Even so, green remains as one of the easiest colors in the world to spot from a distance, with a bright green color, bordering between neon green and neon yellow, reportedly being the world’s most visible color.

There’s a difference between the most visible and brightest color, though. While green is most easy to see during the day, yellow is more noticeable in bad light conditions. Yellow is the brightest color in the spectrum, with the brightest color being very bright yellow.

So yes, yellow does stand out among other colors and can easily be spotted from a distance. What makes yellow taxi cabs even more noticeable, is that few cars that aren’t taxis are painted bright yellow.

Rozanne WildsHistory of Taxis: Why Are Taxis Yellow?

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