The original Yellow Cab Company
based in Chicago, Illinois
is one of the largest taxicab
companies. Independent companies using that name (some with common heritage, some without) operate in many cities in a number of countries. Many firms operate with drivers as independent contractors. In some cities, they are operated as cooperatives
owned by their drivers.
Related companies include The Hertz Corporation, Yellow Roadway and the Chicago Motor Coach Company, which was acquired by the Chicago Transit Authority.
The Yellow Taxicab Co. was incorporated in New York on April 3, 1912. Among its' directors and major stockholders were Albert F. Rockwell and the Connecticut Cab Co. In 1908, Albert Rockwell, founder and General Manager of the New Departure Manufacturing Co. of Bristol, Ct. traveled to Europe to evaluate their taxi systems, hoping to develop a similar one in Washington D.C. By later that year the new Rockwell cabs were being sent to several major cities including New York. W.C.P. was the first livery to introduce the yellow cab to Manhattan streets. By March of 1910, the Connecticut Cab Co. (essentially the directors of New Departure) assumed operating control of W.C.P.'s taxis. Shortly after incorporation the Yellow Taxicab Co. merged with the Cab and Taxi Co. and with the strength of Ct. Cab with whom its' name was interchangeably used, the young business assumed a large share of the New York market. Its' corporate life was fairly short however, as fare wars and restrictions forced a merger with the Mason-Seaman Transportation Co. on March 3, 1914.
The Yellow Cab Co. (of Chicago) was founded by John Hertz in December 1, 1915. The related Yellow Cab and Yellow Truck and Coach Manufacturing Company acquired Walter L Jacobs car rental business. The Yellow Truck Company and rental car business was sold to General Motors in 1926.
None of these fully suited the taxicab industry, so on December 31, 1914 the first Yellow Cab Manufacturing Company Cab was designed, and the Model J was released in August 1915.
Hertz ran the taxicab company until 1929, when he left to found another rental car company, Hertz Rent-a-Car, which still uses a yellow logo as well.
The taxicab company was purchased in 1929 by Morris Markin, who had established Checker Cab Manufacturing Company, with the Checker Taxi, a driver's cooperative.
The company was sold again in 1996.
The color yellow
According to Yellow Cab Co. tradition, the color (and name) yellow was selected by John Hertz as the result of a survey by the University of Chicago which indicated it was the easiest color to spot. While John Hertz may well have consulted with the University of Chicago on a desirable color, there were yellow taxicabs already in major American cities before 1915. Bristol Engineering, a subsidiary of New Departure Manufacturing Co. , produced its' first yellow cabs in 1908. It's very likely that when John Hertz bought and borrowed cars for his fledgling business, older yellow cabs from the Chicago area were among his acquisitions. The popular story goes that the wife of the President of New Departure, Nettie Rockwell particularly liked the color yellow and it therefore became the color of the new Rockwell taxicabs.
The 'Yellow Cab Group' in Australia was founded in 1924. The Australian color scheme for Yellow Cab is more "orange" than "yellow". This is probably due to the fact that when the franchise was purchased the instructions for the livery stated that the most effective eye catching colour combination was a yellow base with red writing. It has been suggested that these instructions were misinterpreted and a blending of red and yellow paints produced the now famous Yellow Cab "orange".
- White Line, Inc., founded in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1905 using horse-drawn carriages now operates Yellow Cab service in that city.
- The Yellow Cab Company of Baltimore, Maryland was founded in 1909
- Yellow Cab of Chicago, Illinois was founded by John Hertz in 1915, and claims to be the "oldest and largest" cab management and services provider in the US (see Baltimore above) .
- Yellow Checker Cab of Peoria, IL was founded in 1922 and is the largest taxi fleet in downstate Illinois.
- Yellow Cab of Chico, California
- Yellow Cab and Transit Co. in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma was founded in 1924. It ultimately became the Yellow Roadway, a major US truck operator.
- Yellow Cab of San Diego, California has been in continuous operation since the 1920s.
- The Yellow Cab Cooperative of San Francisco, California was founded on November 8, 1977, succeeding a failed private company .
- Peter Pan Bus Lines was founded as Yellow Cab Air Line in Springfield, Massachusetts, which was purchased by Peter Carmen Picknelly in 1933.
- Louisville Transportation Company of Louisville, Kentucky operates as Yellow Cab as well as Checker Cab and Cardinal Cab. Yellow Cab of Louisville has been in continuous operation since 1893, when it was founded as Louisville Carriage Company.
- United Transportation of Lexington, Kentucky operates as Yellow Cab as well as additional brand. United is owned by Louisville Transportation Company
- Yellow Cab of Virginia, Charlottesville Owned by Jay Graves established in 1933 by Jay Graves Sr.
- Yellow Cab Of Buffalo, New York Part Of Liberty Cab
- Yellow Cab of Memphis, Tennessee and its "sister companies" Checker Cab and Premier Transportation
A movie, The Yellow Cab Man, was made in 1950, starring Red Skelton.