The Society of Visual Education (SVE) was founded in Chicago in 1919 by Harley L. Clarke, who wanted to see motion pictures used for educational purposes, as well as entertainment. Mr. Clarke formed an advisory board and developed a company that would write, produce, and distribute films suitable for use in schools and colleges. Additionally the company would provide publicity and information concerning the then infant audiovisual field.
The products developed by SVE followed Clarke’s original ideas. They are curriculum-oriented and cover the major disciplines taught in elementary and secondary schools: language arts, reading, writing, mathematics, social studies, science, guidance and health, and consumer education.
In the 1960’s SVE partner with Singer Education and Training Products to offer the Picture Story Study Print Set. Thirty sets were introduced, within each set were eight 13X18 color pictures that depict various subjects. Set SP-129 offered to schools and educators was “How People Travel In The City” the picture above is “Taxicab”.
So if we looks at this picture what can we learn? Answer: Taxicabs are Checkers! Yes the Checker Facebook Group’s Club favorite car, the Checker Model A11 was indeed the car depicted in the poster, millions of children would learn that the Checker was the standard for a Taxicab.
More importantly, the picture depicts a green taxicab, not yellow! Educators didn’t bother to characterize taxicabs as being yellow, why? The answer: because most U.S. taxis in the 1960’s and even today were not typically yellow.
Today in movies, print and other forms of media it seems that taxicabs are always depicted as being yellow. Within the collector car hobby the majority of restored Taxis and Checker A11s are painted yellow. What drives this thinking?
Two factors over the years have created the impression that Taxicabs are always yellow? Together in 1907 John Hertz and Walden Shaw entered the taxicab business in Chicago. John Hertz had read a study by the University of Chicago that found that yellow with a slight tint of red was the most visible color at long distances. In a sea of black car, Hertz painted his taxis yellow. As Hertz grew his business he started to franchise nationally, many franchisees in cities across the US operated painted yellow cabs.
The other factor in the all cabs are yellow myth is that in 1967 the City of New York Taxi Authority required that all taxis operating in the five city boroughs be painted yellow. The New York City ruled ordered all “medallion taxis” to be painted yellow to help cut down on unofficial drivers (Gypsy Cabs) and make official taxicabs more readily recognizable for those seeking a ride.
Now for reality: green has been a very popular taxi color for quite some time. Checker Cab operated fleets in almost as many cities as Yellow Cab and had largely operated green cab under various brand names(Checker, Parmalee and National). United Cab in Los Angeles has long operated green cabs. As there are no typical American citizens (Black, White, Brown, Yellow) in our politiaclly correct society we promote diversity, likewise there is no typical American Taxicabs, the depiction of “yellow” is a very narrow stereotype.
In 1940 Checker introduced the Checker Model A. At that time Checker brochures promoted the idea that taxi operators should consider themselves the seller of a commodity and that to make this shift in thinking requires thinking of new ways to attract customers.
One way of doing that was to buy a Checker and have the new taxicab painted various flattering color schemes. Checker would offer unlimited painting schemes right up until the end of Checker Taxicab production in 1982
Despite the facts many people still think of US based taxis a being a standard four door sedan painted yellow, but this could all change. In 2013 New York City has changed its laws and now taxis can be painted green, yes green!
The green cabs are allowed to pick up street hails in northern Manhattan and anywhere in the other boroughs, excluding Kennedy and LaGuardia airports. They also can pick up passengers who arrange rides through the bases like regular livery cars.
The new class of cab was created in part because yellow cab drivers focused almost entirely on Manhattan’s central business district and ignored all other neighborhoods like Washington Heights, Sunset Park in Brooklyn and Corona in Queens. Livery black car drivers regularly flouted the law and picked up street hails in their neighborhoods, risking substantial fines.
Recent reports indicate that today in New York City Yellow cabs still carry far more passengers than their rivals, making 397,000 trips per day, compared with 141,000 for Uber, 53,000 for green taxis
In Chicago Yellow Cab holds 25% of the medallions currently operating on the streets of the second city. However Yellow Cab (of Hertz fame) is currently in bankruptcy, the result of a major loss over a taxicab accident several years ago, it’s unclear if Yellow in can survive. It’s quite possible that if Yellow goes out of business, elimination of the brand would transform Chicago a complete multi colored taxicabs environment. Checker Cab in Chicago still operates green cab and would hold the majority of remaining medallions. the days of yellow cabs may be numbered for Chicago.
In the big scheme of things is this important, clearly no, but in the interest of diversity let’s go green! Lets stop thinking that all taxicab are yellow.
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When restoring my 1976 A11 I was torn between a NYC yellow color scheme and the color of our family’s cabs; green. I went with yellow but, if I ever do it again, green it will be.
My Dad was a taxi driver on Detroit from the 40’s to early 60’s. He taught me that the difference from green and yellow taxis was that yellow cabs where owned by Checker and green ones where privately owned. Wad this a Detroit only thing?
probably a Detroit thing
You lucky rascals! I live in one of the strangest places in the US. With a population of 73,446, there is only one cab service. Oh there are one or two guys that have a driving service, but they usually have just one car. Poor driving habits of the one cab company can even choose to discriminate where they want to drop off or pick up, so it’s good luck. I truly miss Chicago and if you ever get a chance to come here, I urge you. PLEASE DON’T! By the way, the town is called Kalamazoo, who’s former name was Calamity Zoo. Think about that on your next cab ride.