5. Why Are Most Taxi Cabs Yellow?

In 1907, businessman Harry N. Allen started the New York Taxicab Company, bringing the first gas-powered cabs to New York City. These 600 cabs, imported from France, were—surprise—red and green! A taxi historian, Graham Hodges, said owners of cab companies would paint their fleets a distinct signature color, resulting in cabs ranging from brown, white, red, and even checker ones. And some were yellow.

After a few years, two big cab companies decided that yellow was the way to go, with both ultimately contributing to the tradition of yellow cabs in New York City. These companies were the Yellow Cab Company, started by John Hertz in Chicago in 1910, and the Yellow Taxicab Company, which was incorporated in New York by Albert Rockwell in 1912.

Why did these guys want yellow? According to a popular account, Rockwell chose yellow to please his wife Nettie, who favored the color. However, according to Allan Fromberg, the Deputy Commissioner for Public Affairs at the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission, it was Hertz who was the true driving force behind the influx of yellow cabs in New York City. As the founder of the Yellow Cab Company in Chicago in 1910 (later incorporated in 1915), Hertz read a University of Chicago study finding that yellow was the most prominent color seen from a distance. Understanding yellow would stand out the most to pedestrians seeking cabs in busy streets, he painted his cabs accordingly. Read more here.