From LEGO taxis and cabbie photography
to consulting data and an immigrant-inspired documentary, you’ll find that lots of people study or celebrate New York City’s yellow taxis. After all, ask anyone in the world to picture a street in Manhattan, and they’re bound to visualize the whizzing taxicabs that keep the city moving above ground. And who could forget the thousands of tenacious cabbies who work long hours shuttling passengers all over the boroughs of New York City?
So, all “hail” to these five great resources on taxi cab culture and cabbies in New York City:
1.Taxi Dreams, the PBS documentary
Produced as a public television documentary in 2004, Taxi Dreams crew focuses on the stories of five immigrant drivers and their trials and tribulations in NYC cab culture. Even if you have not seen the acclaimed film, PBS maintains has a thorough website to complement the movie. You can preview many clips from Taxi Dreams (most are 3 minutes in length) and learn about the cabbies profiled. The drivers talk frankly about their decisions to move to America and start hacking, their good and bad experiences, their safety concerns, their families, and the pride they take in an often thankless job. The site also provides a concise history of cabs in New York City, a facts-n-figures section, and a fun quiz. Last but not least, check out the great interview with Terry Gelber, a former cabbie and actor who now teaches the 80-hour licensing class for new taxi drivers.
2. NY Cabbie
Maintained by an actual NYC cab driver, this catchall cab culture site has some worthwhile content, including an amusing advice section playfully entitled “Dear Cabby” and a taxi story compilation featuring taxi-related rants and anecdotes from around the world. Also, be sure to check out the cabbie photography, which includes some original, well-composed shots. Many of the photos are available for sale directly on the website or through contact with the site owner.
3. NYC Taxi Fact Book
maintained by Schaller Consulting
The Taxi and Limousine Commission, or TLC, works in concert with a consulting firm to collect fascinating data on New York City cabs. From ridership and fares to complaints and lost items, they leave no numbers un-calculated with regard to passenger experiences. However, Schaller also collects excellent data on the cabbies themselves, including native languages, ages, previous occupations, retention rates, and even home neighborhoods. Additional info is available about the cab fleets, accidents, and practically anything else you can measure in the culture of yellow taxi cabs in New York City. The March 2006 release includes data from 2005.
4. Lego Taxis
Some people never stopped playing with LEGOs! Sean Kenney, a fan of taxicabs and building blocks, combined his interests and modeled his plastic creations after the 2002-2003 Ford Crown Victoria taxis currently running the streets of New York. Although the LEGO cabs aren’t terribly refined, you have to admire this enthusiast’s creativity and attention to detail. You’ll see photos of the toy cabs, including one that features a digital billboard.
5. Taxi: Cabs and Capitalism in New York City – a book by Biju Mathew
Available on Amazon.com and at most other book retailers, this 2005 release pointedly examines the history of cabs and cab drivers in New York, focusing on labor struggles and discrimination. Although it provides a sharp critique of the revolving system of driver exploitation and labor fights, it’s also a great read for anyone who’s fascinated by big city logistics and the very gritty side of human service jobs.