Bicycles were all the rage. For the manufacturers of bicycles, bicycle
parts, and accessories it was a gold rush. In just four years bicycle ownership had increased by an astounding 250% and clubs organized tours that were hundreds of miles in length. The League of American Wheelmen became a powerful political force that lobbied for better roads. Astute businessmen such as Orville and Wilbur Wright were quick to capitalize on the
In the shadows of bicycle mania, a new technological wonder was being prepared for its debut. Ransom E. Olds mused on the advantages of a horseless carriage in an interview published by Scientific American in the 1880’s. In the early 1890’s the Duryea brothers became the first to begin manufacturing these horseless carriages, and Montgomery Ward noted that they were a sight to behold, something that every parent should take the children to see before the fad passed. Barnum & Bailey Circus gave a Duryea Motor Wagon top billing over the bearded lady AND the albino. (more…)
Forrest Keeton’s plans for transforming the moribund Keeton Company
into a taxicab manufacturing enterprise in 1923 were stillborn resultant of an inability to attract investors. However, at the very least Keeton had proven to be tenacious as well as persistent as he had initially founded the Keeton Town Car Works in Detroit, Michigan for the manufacture of taxicabs in 1908.
Resultant of under capitalization, Keeton entered into a limited partnership with Jewel Motor Car Company of Massillion, Ohio for the manufacture of the taxi he had designed. Production of the Jewell-Keeton taxi had barely commenced when Herbert A. Croxton, the primary financial backer for Jewell, reorganized the company as Croxton-Keeton Motor Car Company. (more…)
In spite of the companies forward thinking leadership, initially vision pertaining to the long-range potential in the burgeoning taxi industry was largely myopic, as was an understanding about the changing nature of competition. .
However, entrepreneurs such as Charles A. Coey were quick to grasp that potential. In 1902, Coey established an automobile “livery” and the cities first parking garage for automobiles, and in 1907, John Daniel Hertz Sr. moved from selling pre-owned cars to using them, and leasing them, as cabs. Within the first years of the 20th century, there were seven taxicab companies established in Chicago that operated more than one hundred vehicles. There were also a countless number of independent operators. (more…)
In the city of Chicago, well-organized livery and carriage service companies
Photo Library of Congress
took to the streets almost as soon as the city was established. One of the earliest of these companies, Parmelee Transportation Company established in May 1853, would play a key role in the development of America’s most famous manufacturer of taxicabs, pioneer the use of the horseless carriage as inner city taxis, and serve as the foundation for the building of empires. (more…)
When I was a kid there was an advertising campaign that encouraged a
Courtesy Mohave Museum of History & Arts
generation of Americans to see the USA in your Chevrolet. To ensure that we got the message there were two fellows named Buzz and Todd whose adventures played out each week on television. They drove a Chevrolet Corvette, and even though few episodes were actually filmed on U.S. 66, the show immortalized Route 66. (more…)