A Social History of the New York City Cabdriver

225 pages

March, 2012

ISBN: 9780814738764


Graham Russell Gao Hodges, a former New York City cabdriver, is the George Dorland Langdon, Jr., Professor of History and Africana and Latin American Studies at Colgate University. He is the author of many books, including David Ruggles: A Radical Black Abolitionist and the Underground Railroad in New York City.

All books by Graham Russell Gao Hodges

New York City cabdrivers hold a unique place in American culture writ large.  Cabbies proverbially counsel, console, and confound. Sometimes perceived as the key to street-level opinion or mysterious savants who don’t speak much English, the hackers who move New Yorkers have been integral to the city’s growth and culture since the mid-nineteenth century when they first began shuttling residents, workers, and visitors in horse-drawn carriages. Their importance grew with the introduction of gasoline-powered cars early last century and continues to the present day, when more than 12,000 licensed yellow cabs operate in Manhattan alone.
Taxi! is the first book-length history of New York City cabdrivers and the community they compose. From labor unrest and racial strife among cabbies to ruthless competition and political machinations, this deftly woven narrative captures the people—lower-class immigrants, for the most part—and their struggle to attain a piece of the American dream. Hodges tells their tale through contemporary news accounts, Hollywood films, social science research, and the words of the cabbies themselves. Taxi! provides a new perspective on New York’s most colorful emissaries. 


  • "You have to live in New York to know how critical taxis are to circulation in the great metropolis. But you do not have to live in New York to be fascinated by this unusual book, which gives a powerful human dimension to one of Gotham's most important subcultures."

    —Kenneth T. Jackson, editor of The Encyclopedia of New York City

  • "In this informative, solid history, Graham Russell Gao Hodges traces the story of the cab drivers from 1907, when the first metered taxis appeared on New York streets, to the present."

    —Pete Hamill, New York Times Book Review