Vance Thompson's Cab Drivers / 31: The New York Cab Driver and his Cab / 3
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The cabby's "better half" takes breakfast. Photo by Arthur Hewitt.

Today it is hard to find a photo of a New York street that doesn't have one or more taxis in it, but in 1906, according to Thompson, "The cab is no integral part of New York life."

There were only two thousand licensed cabs on the island of Manhattan compared with about 15,000 in Paris and 12,000 in London. The relative unimportance of cabs in New York may account for the lax regulatory environment that Thompson complains of.

Outing magazine, vol. XLIX no. 2, November, 1906, p. 131.

Vance Thompson's Cab Drivers / 31

The New York Cab Driver and his Cab / 3

It used to be part of a young gentleman's education to know how to dance well enough to win an heiress and shoot straight enough to keep her. It was a not unpleasant way of getting on in the world. Unfortunately it has gone out of vogue like many another good old fashion. Much in the same way, it seems to me, the young gentlemen of to-day should be instructed in the art of using cabs. It may not lead to great fortune; it may not be the directest road to the Presidency; but it will inculcate self-respect and a certain fat way of taking one's ease in life, better than great fortunes (which are common and rather vulgar, anyway) or the Presidency. Like every other art, that of cabbing has its rules. In New York, I fancy, there are very few who are really adept about them. The youngest man-about-town knows, of course, the two elemental occasions for taking a cab when he wants to be alone, or when he wants to be alone with her. The other occasions shade off into subtleties. Taking a cab when no one sees you is as ridiculous as wearing an orchid in the buttonhole of your bath-gown. You ride in a cab in order to be seen riding in a cab. The only real satisfaction to be got out of being alone is to have other people stand, timid and afar, saying thoughtfully, "Ah, he is alone." I know a vehement and distinguished novelist, who rides up and down Fifth Avenue for hours at a time, not only to think, but to let us see him think; he has mastered the art of cabbing as, in New York, it should be cabbed.

How little it takes to decorate life!

You may be trundled up and down Fifth Avenue for hours and the cost is only fifty cents for twenty blocks.

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