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Yellow Cab Mfg. Co.
Yellow Cab Manufacturing Company, 1919-1925; Yellow Cab Co. 1919-present;  Chicago, Illinois
Associated Builders
Walden W. Shaw Co., 1906-1916; Walden W. Shaw Auto Livery Co., 1907-1919; Walden W. Shaw Corp., 1916-1925, Walden W. Shaw Auto Livery Co. of Kansas City, 1910-1925

While John Daniel Hertz (b. April 10, 1879, d. October-8-1961) is best remembered for the car rental company that bears his name, that enterprise was perhaps the least of his ac­complishments. He was in later years a financier and a successful racehorse owner. His major accomplishment, however, was develop­ing the world's largest taxicab company.

The subject of this article was born as Sándor Herz on April 10, 1879 to Jakob and Katie (Schlessinger) Herz in Vrútky (aka Ruttka), a Slovakian village in the Tureianska župa region of the kingdom of Hungary, later Austro-Hungary, Czechoslovakia and more recently, Slovakia.

In 1882 the Herz family emigrated to the United States, departing Bremen, Germany on the Norddeutscher Lloyd steam ship SS Herman. On board were Jacob (b.1836), Katie (b.1837) Jennie (b.1870), Fred (b.1872), Julie (b.1877), John (b.1879) and Emilia (b.1881) Herz.

At some point in the immigration process, the family’s surname was changed from Herz to Hertz. Also unknown is the family’s whereabouts and activity between 1882 and their 1884 arrival in Chicago, although it’s assumed they were living amongst the thousands of recently arrived Eastern European Jews in New York City.

The union between Jacob and Katie was blessed shortly after their arrival in Chicago with the birth of William (b.1884), their sixth child. Jacob made a living selling hardware and crockery, eventually saving up enough money to purchase a hotel which was later managed by his eldest son, Fred.

John D. Hertz, the subject of this story, was 5 years old when the family arrived in Chicago. John attended public school until the fifth grade when the adventurous lad ran away from home at the age of twelve after a sound beating from his father which, he later admitted, he doubtless richly deserved.

The sale of his school books brought him some pocket change and he set about looking for a job which was soon found at the Chicago Morning Herald who hired him on as a copy boy. Hertz worked late afternoons and evenings at the Herald, spending his days roaming the streets of Chicago. He later remarked “I was as wild and untamed as the grass on the prairie.”

He also got into the occasional street fight, which would shortly prove to be useful in his next career, however it also left him sickly and malnourished. His boss at the paper forced him to visit his own doctor after which Hertz was deemed too ill to continue his employment. It was strongly suggested that he start eating, exercising and get a higher-paying job working out of doors.

Hertz took a position driving a merchandise wagon from nine in the morning to nine or ten o’clock every night in return for $6 a week, which enabled him to eat regular meals and to join a gymnasium, where he became friends with a number of amateur and semi-professional boxers.

He soon discovered that additional income could be gleaned from providing news tips to Edward Sheridan, a sports writer he knew from his days at the Chicago Morning Herald. He was paid $.25 a column inch for whatever tips he provided, and after much encouragement from Sheridan began writing his own stories which dramatically increased his income to the point where his sports reporting earned him more than his work as a teamster.

Hertz had recently begun his own boxing career fighting in the Chicago Athletic Association under the name Dan Donnelly. The pseudonym of Donnelly, a legendary early 19th century Irish boxer, was chosen because he feared his Jewish surname might draw the attention of anti-Semites, limiting any potential professional career.

Unfortunately his career as a Morning Herald sports reporter was short-lived as a 1901 merger between the Chicago Morning Herald, Chicago Times Herald and Chicago Record (forming the Chicago Record Herald) resulted in the elimination of his position.

The timing was unfortunate as Hertz had recently met his future wife, Frances “Fannie” Kenser, while on one of his many trips with his friends to Chicago’s numerous horse racing facilities.

In a 1925 interview with Bertie Charles Forbes, Hertz related:

“I analyzed my assets and my qualifications and concluded that I had nothing but wide acquaintanceship in the sporting world. I had won several amateur boxing tournaments at the Chicago Athletic Association and I could see nor course open to me except to become manager of some prize fighter. This I did.”

Hertz took to managing Benny Yanger, an up and coming pro featherweight pugilist who he christened the “Tipton Slasher” as Yanger used to count on victory by slashing at his opponents. Yanger had served as the office boy in the Morning Herald editorial room in which Hertz worked.

As Yanger was only a part-time pugilist, Hertz began submitting boxing news stories to Harvey T. Woodruff, the sports editor of the Chicago Tribune, in order to get some much-needed cash. Woodruff took a liking to him and a decade later became one of Yellow Cab’s early investors.

Hertz’ skill at promotion is evidenced in the following July 23, 1902 newspaper article. He states:

“Perhaps if I had not become the manager of Benny Yanger I might now be a struggling newspaper writer. Now I am enjoying a prominent place in the pugilistic world as a manager and my protege is earning about $10,000 a year. This is but a prelude to the story of how little things sometimes affect the lives of well known people.

"I don't call it ability to take a young 122-pound pugilist to the top rounds of the ring ladder inside of two years without a defeat," remarked the manager, "but I do call the success of the Tipton Slasher something marvelous. Never in the history of prize fighting in America has there been a character as strange as this young man who has not been beaten. He does not drink, abstains from tobacco, loves his home — and he supports a big family — keeps a bank account and is looking to the day when he can engage in business more to his liking than boxing.

"When I assumed the task of managing him — and managers of boxers have to exercise as much acumen if they wish to make successful business deals for their charges as do business men — I found him willing to obey my instructions to the letter. He contracted to do his end of the work — to train faithfully and to make every post a winning one and the critics unite in saying that he is the easiest of the well known boxers to handle. I never knew Yanger to get angry at any action. He never objected to terms made by his manager and when financial matters were adjusted he never went out to throw his money over the bar. Once a newsboy, but a clever one, he used every opportunity to pick up the education and has aspirations for a university course some day when he can afford to leave the ring, Yanger might go into the parlor of a refined family, and carry on a conversation with the lady of the house without arousing the suspicion that he was a boxer.”

By 1903 Hertz was managing a number of Chicago-based fighters who in addition to Yanger included bantam-weight champion Harry Forbes and welterweight champion Jack O’Keefe. By this time Hertz had become engaged to Frances Kesner, whose old-world Dutch parents were not entirely pleased with her fiance’s line of work.

Hertz recalled to B.C. Forbes:

“I was making fairly good money and getting lots of experience, but my girl vowed that she would not marry me until I gave up this kind of life. As I simply could not think of living long without her, I began looking around for other work.

Although he continued to manage Yanger and O’Keefe into 1904, Hertz and Frances "Fannie" Kesner (b.1881-d.1963) were married on July 15, 1903. Their union was blessed with three children: Leona (b.1905), John D. Jr. (b.1908), and Helen (b.1910). Leona Hertz married Chicago native Alfred Ettlinger in 1923, after which she was married for a second time to Julien Saks, the heir and grandson of the founder of Saks Fifth Ave. Dept Store. John D. Hertz jr., made headlines in 1942 with his marriage to Myrna Loy, from whom he was divorced two years later. Helen Hertz married Robert M. Levy in 1935, followed by Paul Louis Hexter in 1950.

An article in the August 9, 1904 Oshkosh Daily Northwestern hints that Hertz might finally be ending his long association with the ring:

“‘Yanger and I will part the best of friends. Since I took up Benny, after his third professional fight, he has earned over $73,000 in the ring.’ — John Hertz.

“‘I am old enough to shift for myself now. In the future, I shall do my own managing. There is no feeling between Hertz and myself.’ — Benny Yanger.

“In fight circles throughout the entire country today the separation of fighter Benny Yanger and Manager John Hertz is being eagerly discussed. Despite the declaration of both Yanger and Hertz that their parting was a peaceful one, all manner of stories explaining the separation are being circulated.

“It is claimed that Hertz had not been so warm toward Yanger after the later's defeat by Anrelio Herrera that this has led to an agreement, culminating in the separation. Hertz took hold of Yanger nearly six years ago after the little-Italian had first broken into the fight game — in fact after his third professional battle Hertz saw great possibilities in

Yanger and proceeded to develop them, with the result that the Italian, until his defeats by Hanlon and Herrera, the only two in his record, was considered in a class but little below Corbett and there were many willing to stake large sums that he could dispose of the champion, as he had already done once before.

“Yanger today said his plans are somewhat indefinite as yet depending initially upon the condition of his arm which was injured in his Butte battle. However, he expects it will be all right in a month, and he will then be able to make a few dates. He is weighing 131 ¼ pounds and says he can easily train down to 126 or 128. In the future he says, he intends confining his efforts to boxing with lighter men than those whom he has met lately.

“Jack O'Keefe, formerly Yanger's partner, probably will continue under the management of Hertz, at least the parties interested knew of no changes in this direction last evening. Hertz said he had made an offer for O'Keefe for a fight on the coast, but turned it down.”

Soon after the article was published, Hertz began working as an automobile salesman. He recalled getting his first position with B.C. Forbes:

“I knew a chauffeur who was acting as a demonstrator for an automobile agency and he felt that I should be able to capitalize my friendship with patrons of the sport and others by becoming an automobile salesman. I got a start, but although I worked tremendously hard, I made only $800 the first year, not enough to keep us – yes I got married. But the second year I made $12,000, and the next year I sold more than the manager and seven or eight salesmen combines. I earned $13,500 this third year.

“I was determined that my wife’s folks should not be in a position to point their finger at us. This fired me with ambition. Then, of course, I had a great many of acquaintances. But looking back, I can see that the main reason I succeeded was because I sold, not automobiles, but service.

“When I sold a man a car, I was his servant from then on.

“If one of my customers had a breakdown at 2 o’clock in the morning he knew that I would be on my way to help him out – cars broke down rather often in those days. I bought supplies for them at cost and did everything I could for them. The result was that my customers sold most of my cars for me."

Although he became a skilled salesman, the paltry $900 he earned during 1905 prompted him to apply for a $50-per-week job as sales manager at a competing dealership. Although the firm’s president initially turned him down, Hertz boasted that he could earn more than the current manager and he was hired at a standard 5 per­cent commission.

Hertz never elaborated on what specific brands he sold during his early days in the business although three decades later his friend Harvey T. Woodruff recalled that Hertz started off selling Columbia automobiles and quickly became the best salesman on Chicago’s automobile row.

In 1907 Hertz was asked by a fellow Chicago Athletic Association member named Shaw to assist him in getting out of a financial embarrassment involving his Berliet automobile distributorship.

Walden Willar Shaw (b.1879) was the son of Sarah E. (Bogardus) and William W. Shaw, the owners of Chicago’s largest wholesale baker, the Dake Bakery.

After a public school education in Chicago’s Marquette School, he attended the Princeton-Yale Preparatory School followed by a period at the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. He married Bessie Kennedy in 1900 and the blessed union resulted in two daughters, Marget Elizabeth and Bessie K. Shaw.

Shaw’s older brother Robert was a well-known Chicago automobilist, who in May of 1901 had made a record-breaking 12-day New York to Chicago run via Buffalo and Cleveland with his wife in a Panhard automobile.

Walden and his young wife Bessie joined his brother and sister-in-law that December on an ambitious automobile tour of Europe. Starting from Paris, the quartet planned on driving almost ten thousand miles through France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Egypt and Northern Africa.

Walden and Bessie returned to Europe in late 1904 as reported by the Motor Record:

“Mr. and Mrs. Walden W. Shaw of Chicago, who spent most of the first half of 1905 in Europe, driving where fancy willed and drinking in the beauties of France, Italy, Spain and England riding on the soft seats of a big 24-35 horsepower Panhard, at the wheel which sat Mr. Shaw, who works on the theory that if there is going to be an road mishaps he prefers to have control of the car himself.”

Upon his arrival back in the states, Shaw set about getting up his own automobile business as reported by the May 17, 1906 issue of The Automobile:

“Walden W. Shaw Co., Chicago to manufacture automobiles and accessories: capital $20,000. Incorporators: Walden W. Shaw, Bronson C. Buxton, Bessie K. Shaw.”

Walden W. Shaw, was listed as president and Bronson C. Buxton, secretary and treasurer and the firm’s offices and garage was located in the heart of Chicago’s Automobile Row at 1532-1534 Michigan Ave. The property backed up to Wabash Ave. and was located just two blocks east of the present-day Soldier’s Field.

Shaw wisely decided against manufacturing his own vehicles and in 1906 became the Chicago distributor for the Berliet and Wayne automobiles.

The November 22, 1906 issue of the Automobile recorded:

“New agencies established by the Wayne Automobile Company, Detroit, Mich., are as follows: Walden W. Shaw, Chicago, Ill….”

Sales of the French-built $4,500 Berliet were stagnant and by late 1907 Shaw was reportedly $45,000 in the red. Since exiting the boxing world in 1904 Hertz had made a name for himself in Chicago’s automobile circles and was the automotive go-to man amongst the members of the Athletic Association’s Crimson Circle.

He agreed to help Shaw out, providing he was given a 33% share in the firm in return for a $2,000 investment. With his own reputation and $2,000 on the line Hertz promptly set about returning the Shaw Company to profitability.

He also convinced Shaw to take on an additional franchise for the ALCO automobile. Within the year the entire $45,000 loss was wiped out and Hertz had put the Shaw Co. $15,000 in the black.

Unfortunately the profit was represented by a whole fleet of trade-ins. The used car business was in its infancy and it would be many years before a dealer could turn his trade-ins into cash at the local auction. Even though Hertz had purchased the cars at pennies on the dollar, most automobile dealers considered trade-ins as something to be avoided, that is until they became John D Hertz’ problem.

Hertz recalled:

"As my customers weren't buyers of second-hand cars, I had to put on my thinking cap to find some way of disposing of them or making them earn their keep.

"Having driven a delivery wagon, I figured that there should be money in the passenger delivery busi­ness. Joy-riding was beginning to become popular. Families were taking to hiring a car for outings, es­pecially on Sundays. And a few taxis were beginning to make their appearance.

At that time horse-drawn Hansom cabs were the most popular conveyance for transporting passengers in Chicago, although a few metered Thomas-Flyer taxicabs had just been put into service by the Chicago distributor of the marque, Charles A. Coey & Co.

Although Shaw’s family didn't relish the idea of being identified with the livery trade Hertz convinced him that motorized conveyances held great financial possibilities.

The term livery originally referred to a uniform or other insignia or symbol worn in a non-military context on a person or object to denote a relationship with a person or corporate body. When applied to a vehicle, livery can denote the vehicle’s paint scheme or badging although it’s more commonly used to denote a chauffeur-driven private car, provided to a company or organization under contract.

In the early twentieth century the pay as you go taxicab was a recent innovation. Private citizens would normally ride in livery vehicles provided to them by a third party, say a private club, hotel, restaurant or organization.

Groups like the Chicago Athletic Association were Hertz’ intended market, and as both he and Shaw were members in good standing, he bid on their livery contract. Shaw was short a couple of the required ten vehicles so he borrowed a few when his fleet was inspected by the Athletic Association’s transportation committee. Shaw was awarded the conces­sion which enabled the firm to purchase the remaining automobiles.

The Shaw agency sponsored George Salzman’s Thomas Flyer in the Chicago Automobile Club’s 1908 Algonquin Hillclimb.

Although Charles A. Coey & Co., 1424-1426 Michigan Ave. were the official Chicago distributors of the Thomas Flyer, Shaw utilized a number of Thomas Flyer taxicabs, likely purchased from Coey, in his livery business which might explain why he sponsored Salzman’s car in the 1908 Hillclimb.

Incidentally Coey’s advertisements claimed that he:

“placed the first taxicabs on the streets of Chicago and now owns the best in the city. He is one of the few who made a success of the automobile livery business, beginning with one car and increasing to fifty. Commencing with practically nothing, he built up not only the largest automobile livery business in the country, but also the largest automobile sales business in America.”

Although most of Shaw’s business was for private clubs and organizations, their drivers were members of the Local 17 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Approximately 900 members of the local went on strike during the evening of May 8, 1909, in a bid to reduce their hours, thereby increasing their hourly wage.

At the time cab drivers received $12.00 per week for working a seven day week, twelve hours a day, with one hour off for personal use, totaling 83 hours a week. They demanded a six-day, 72 hour work week for the same wages, or $2 for each 12 hour shift.

Negotiations between the union and the Livery Association stalemated with the Liverymen offering the cabbies a $1 a week raise, but with no reduction in hours. The union declined to accept the offer, and its membership voted to strike. The Liverymen withdrew their offer in retaliation and the Illinois State Board of Arbitration was called in to help settle the matter.

Despite the board’s best efforts, no settlement was forthcoming and within a couple of months most of the Union members had returned to work at their pre-strike hours and wages. The strike only served to worsen the already tenuous relationship between the cabbies and their employers, a problem that John D. Hertz would soon be working to rectify, at least with his own employees.

In addition to the Thomas Flyer taxis, Shaw and Hertz also utilized Atlas and Jewel-Keating (later Keeton-Croxton) taxis as well as a handful of Cadillac touring cars. During 1910 Keeton-Croxton included Shaw’s name in the firm’s national advertising as follows:

“The Croxton Taxicabs are now being used by Walden W. Shaw Co. of Chicago and nineteen other large taxicab companies.”

Incidentally, the bodies for the Jewel-Keating taxicabs were built by the Acme Veneer and Body Co. of Rahway, New Jersey. The firm’s taxicabs were designed by Forest. M. Keeton a Detroit designer whom designed the "French Type" Croxton-Keeton cars after the French-built Renault. At a quick glance their landaulet taxicabs could easily be mistaken for a high-priced Renault, a fact that was not lost on Walden W. Shaw.

Media savvy Hertz also started sending out short press release to the various Automotive trades, The following announcement appeared in the February 10, 1910 issue of the Automobile:

“A foreigner which is almost unknown in this country, outside of Chicago, is the Berliet, imported by Walden W. Shaw. The Berliet design, it will be remembered, was the original of the ALCO, although the American car has long since departed from the designs of its French parent, and now it would be a clever man who could trace a resemblance. The Berliet cars range from a 12-horsepower up to a 60-horsepower limousine, and are a fine example of the best French construction.”

Sometime in late 1908, Shaw formed a separate corporation, the Walden W. Shaw Auto Livery Company. in order to keep his automobile sales and livery firms separate. Shaw was listed as president and Hertz, secretary and treasurer.

An article titled “The Taximeter Cab In Chicago”, published in the August 18, 1909 issue of Horseless Age included a couple of paragraphs highlighting Shaw’s Livery business:

“THE WALDEN W. SHAW AUTO LIVERY COMPANY located at Twenty-first street and Michigan avenue, occupy a three story brick and concrete building, covering a space 60 x 130 feet. The two lower floors are used as salesroom and garage, and the upper floor as repair shop. This concern was organized in October, 1908 and began business with twenty-four touring cars and two taximeter cabs. At the present time they are operating twenty-five Thomas taximeter cabs and six Atlas taximeter cabs, in addition to a number of touring cars, which latter are rented by the hour only. Thirty Jewel-Keating taximeter cabs for the exclusive use of Chicago's new hotel, "The La Salle." are under construction, and it is safe to say that before the expiration of the present year this company will be operating not less than 100 taximeter cabs. This firm is referred to as the ‘Contract Company,’ the reason being that they have contracts with the majority of the hotels and clubs to furnish cabs. It is claimed that the average gross earnings of the cabs in use are $27 a day. The average mileage of each car is approximately 700 miles a week.

“Drivers are paid on a commission basis, they receiving 20 per cent, of the gross earnings. The management of this concern claim that the drivers working on a commission basis give better service to patrons than those receiving a salary. They contend that the man working on commission strives to please the patron so as to hold him as a regular, and, further, that as all of their drivers are competent and well versed in the operation of the automobile, such a thing as abusing a car is unknown with them. Extreme precautions are taken to prevent the overcharging of passengers. All drivers are under a cash bond, which is held thirty days after dismissal, and this bond is held as a sword over the head of the driver and practically forces him to be honest, both with the firm and its patrons.

“Drunkenness or dishonesty is met with instant dismissal, and in case of dishonesty prosecution is sure to follow. Gasoline, oil and repairs are paid for by the company. Jones taximeters are used and are operated from the left front wheel. For the purpose of checking the mileage shown by the taximeter, Veeder odometers are attached to the right front wheel. This makes it impossible for the drivers to falsify the mileage records. An accurate account has been kept as to the average number of passengers carried per trip, and it has been found that but 17 per cent, of the loads exceed two persons, hence the rates are the same for either one or four passengers. In their touring car and limousine service the rates of hire are: For one or five passengers, inclusive, per hour $5; for each additional passenger, extra, per hour, $1. Time is computed from the moment the car leaves the garage until it returns.

“The taxicab rates are as follows:

For first half mile 30 cents
For each quarter mile thereafter 10 cents
For each six minutes of waiting 10 cents

No charge is made for calls provided the customer rides as far as the car had to travel to reach him. The hourly rate is the same as that shown in the table of the Auto Taxicab Company. All cabs are equipped with Fisk demountables, and a mileage contract exists between the company and the tire manufacturers.”

According to the Chicago City Clerk, during 1909 there were 16 firms operating approximately 250 metered taxicabs in the City of Chicago, of which the three largest were Shaw, the Owen H. Fay Livery Co, the Auto Taxicab Co. and the Chicago Taxicab Co.

A complete list of operators follows:

Coey Auto Surrey Company, 1710 Indiana avenue.
C. W. Motley, 344 Michigan avenue.
Why-Pay-More Auto Livery, 205 East Twenty-eighth street.
Adlake Auto Livery. 5039 Cottage Grove avenue.
Auto Taxicab Company, 2441 Michigan avenue.
Central Auto Livery, corner Jackson boulevard and Franklin strict.
Central Garage Auto Livery, 276 East Fortieth street.
Colonial Auto Livery. 50 East Thirty-ninth street.
Erwin Greer, 2213 Cottage Grove avenue.
Huguelet Brothers, 204 Lincoln Park boulevard.
Walden W. Shaw Auto Livery Company, Twenty-first street and Michigan avenue.
C.W. Miller Auto Livery Company, 418 East Superior street.
H.G. McGaughy. 67 East Eighteenth street.
Owen H. Fay Livery Company, 53 Plymouth place.
W.M. Traut, 243 Michigan avenue.
Chicago Taxicab Company, 1322 Michigan avenue.

However, motorized taxicabs were not the predominate carriers at the time as Chicago’s horse-drawn cabs and hacks outnumbered them almost 3 to 1 (700 vs. 250).

The May 1909 issue of the Commercial Vehicle announced the formation of a firm that would soon become important to the Shaw organization, the City Motor Cab Co.:


“Operations were begun in Chicago in April by the newly organized City Motor Cab Co., of which John D. Towne and John Borden, two young men of social prominence and well-known motorists, are proprietors. Downtown headquarters of the company are located at 97 Randolph street, and for the present the business is to be conducted along conservative lines pending the placing of large orders for machines and the erection of a new garage. A first order for ten machines was placed with the Ewing Automobile Co., formerly the Cleveland Autocab Co., of Geneva, O., whose product was exhibited at the Grand Central Palace show in New York last January. A garage, 100 by 100 feet, to cost $15,000, is being erected at Huron and Fairbanks streets.

“The Ewing taxicabs, as they are called, were designed by L. P. Mooers, formerly designer for the Peerless Motor Car Co., and are excellent examples of engineering construction. The engine has four cylinders cast in pairs and develops 20 horsepower. A selective three-speed transmission is employed, with propeller drive to a live rear axle. The construction is rendered unusual by the placing of the steering column on the left side, while the control levers rise from the change-speed gearbox through the center of the floor boards in front of the driver's seat and are manipulated by the right hand.

“The bodies of the cabs supplied to the City Motor Cab Co., break back of the side doors and are painted battleship gray with black molding and vermilion striping. The chases are vermilion with black striping. Upholstering is in steel gray whipcord.”

City Motor Cab’s garage was located in a group of two and three-story brick structures leased from the Newberry Library and located East of Fairbanks Court and extending east for a distance of about 200 feet on Walton Place (now Walton St) between Clark and Dearborn Sts.

Also announced in the same issue of the Commercial Vehicle was the formation of a Chicago cab-owners Association:


“The new organization, known as the Automobile Transportation Association of Chicago, promises to be one of the most useful that up to this time has been formed for the benefit of owners and operators of livery cars and taxicabs and the people who pay to ride in them.

“The association was formed about a month ago for the purposes of promoting the business of such vehicles and protecting the men who operate them and the citizens who use them.

“One of the primary reasons for the organization of owners was the organization of the chauffeurs, who, it is claimed, almost at once began making demands on the owners of livery cars and taxicabs. This in a measure forced the owners to get together in order to meet the drivers.

“At the meeting at which the organization was effected the following concerns were represented: Owen H. Fay Livery Co., Automobile Taxicab Co., Coey Auto Livery Co., Dan Canary Taxi Service Co., and Kenwood Taxicab Service. Other concerns that are expected to become members are the Imperial Auto Livery Co. and the Walden Shaw Taxicab Co.

“One of the first matters taken up by the new association was the regulation of rates of fare for livery cars and taxicabs. A committee was appointed to confer with city officials with the object of agreeing on a schedule of rates, that is to be uniform and by which it is hoped to protect the people from overcharge. An effort is being made to secure two different schedules, one to be known as No. 1 and the other as No. 2. The former will apply to vehicles carrying one or two passengers, and the other to two or more. No. 1 contemplates a charge of 50 cents for the first mile or fraction, 10 cents for each additional quarter of a mile, and 10 cents for each six minutes' standing.

“It is hoped to secure a No. 2 schedule of 70 cents for the first mile or fraction, and 10 cents for each additional fifth of a mile. The last-named schedule applies only to vehicles carrying more than two passengers. Some of the cab companies are now operating under both No. 1 and No. 2 schedules; others are making use of only No. 1 or a single tariff for all kinds of loads. Uniformity in this matter is urgently sought, and the association hopes to bring it about.

“The double tariff is desirable for several reasons. One is that the additional passengers put increased weight on costly tires. Then there is an inequality in the operation of taxicabs that is sought to be overcome, in a measure at least. That is, that many of the cabs are compelled to run light to get a passenger, or return empty to the station after service has ended. This ‘dead mileage’ has been a serious drawback to profits of the service, and it is hoped that a new schedule that provides more liberally for the carriage of more than two passengers will in a measure reimburse owners.

“Owen H. Fay, who is the president of the new organization and who is the largest livery owner in Chicago, having the entire business of such places as the Auditorium Annex Hotel, the Stratford, Great Northern, Palmer House, Union League Club, Illinois Athletic Club, and the Women's Athletic Club, is selling horses and putting in power vehicles every week. He has had a horse livery for more than thirty years. By the end of the present year he will have sold every horse in his barns, and be operating nothing but power vehicles.

“The Emery concern, one of the largest livery companies in Chicago, sold at auction his entire horse livery on April 8 and 9, and power vehicles, Elmore and Studebaker cars, are being installed.

“Adams Brothers, on Forty-third street, are turning their entire establishment into a garage, which now is nearly completed. The firm already has commenced putting in cars for livery purposes.

“It is claimed that conditions are helping along the growth of the power livery business. While horse vehicles are lower in price, the cost of horseflesh and feed is higher than ever. The use of motor vehicles seems to have had no effect in the reduction of cost of horseflesh, and this has an influence in hastening the use of the commercial vehicle.


“There has been pending in committee since the last week in March a bill introduced in the Chicago Council by the Assistant Corporation Counsel, H. W. Hayes, for the regulation of taxicabs and inspection taximeters. The measure provides a No. 1 tariff for one or two passengers and a No. 2 tariff for more than two passengers. It prohibits the driving of the taximeter from the rear wheel or rear axle, and provides for the regular inspection of all meters semi-annually by the city inspector of weights and measures, with inspection at any time upon complaint and payment of a fee of 50 cents, which fee is to be returned and charged to the operating company if the meter is found inaccurate.

“One clause prohibits the application of a taximeter that has been tested for wheels of a given diameter to cars fitted with smaller wheels, while another forbids the setting of the instrument to register under tariff No. 2 when only one or two passengers are carried. The driver must, before turning down the flag at the end of a service, announce the fare unless the vehicle has been hired by the hour.

“The rates fixed by the ordinance are as follows:

TARIFF NO. 1      
First half mile or fraction thereof   30 cents
Each quarter mile thereafter   10 cents
Each six minutes waiting   10 cents
TARIFF NO. 2      
First one-third mile or fraction thereof   30 cents
Each one-sixth mile thereafter   10 cents
Each six minutes waiting   10 cents

“No charge shall be made for a distance of less than one mile traversed by a cab in responding to a call, but beyond that distance a charge may be made of 20 cents a mile or fraction of a mile. Nor does the bill allow a waiting charge to be made when a cab arrives at a place of call earlier than the time specified and has to wait for the passenger. The legal waiting time is described as the time during which a cab is not in motion, beginning with its engagement in the street or at a stand, or with its arrival at the place of call at the time designated.

“It is provided that any taxicab may be hired by the hour, but the passenger is required to specify such service when engaging the vehicle, and the driver must then turn the flag down in inoperative position. The fare is fixed at $3 for the first hour or fraction, and $2.50 for each subsequent hour or fraction, when one or two passengers are carried; while for more than two passengers the rate is $4 for the first and $3 for each successive hour.

“Passengers may carry hand baggage free, but a charge of 20 cents may be made for carrying a small trunk outside.

“Penalties for violating any of the provisions of the ordinance or for using a taximeter that registers inaccurately are fines of from $5 to $50, in the discretion of the court.”

In September of 1910 the City Motor Cab and Walden W. Shaw Auto Livery companies were merged and reorganized as a Maine Corporation as recorded in the September 15, 1910 issue of Motor Age:

“Taxicab Merger — Chicago's two largest taxicab livery companies have been combined. Details of the consolidation were completed last week whereby the Walden W. Shaw Auto Livery Co. and the City Motor Cab Co. were merged into a new Walden W. Shaw Livery Co.

“The consolidation was effected as an economical measure. The capitalization of the company is $1,000,000, of which $300,000 is preferred stock and $700,000 common stock.

“Almost all of the stock is owned by four men, who are the officers of the new company, as follows: President, Walden W. Shaw, former president of the Walden W. Shaw Auto Livery Co.; vice-president, John D. Towne, former secretary and treasurer of the Motor Cab Co.; secretary and treasurer, John Borden, former president of the Motor Cab Co.; general manager, John D. Hertz, former secretary and treasurer of the old Shaw company.

“The headquarters of the new company and the garage are to occupy the present quarters of the Shaw company, Wabash avenue and Harmon court. The two buildings of the other constituent company at Huron street and the lake also are to be utilized by the new concern. The smaller building will be used for a north side branch garage and the other for the repair end and paint shops of the company.”

The aforementioned Jones Taximeters were introduced in 1908 by the Jones Taximeter Co. (aka Jones Recording Instrument Co.) and sold through their Manhattan office which was located at the corner of Broadway and Seventy-sixth St.

The November 16, 1909 issue of the Chicago Tribune announced the establishment of a Chicago branch:

“The Jones Taximeter company, Chicago; capital, $20,500; manufacturing and dealing in taxicabs and other vehicles, and instruments connected therewith; incorporators, A. R. Hulbert, Henry W. Wales, Sidney S. Gorham.”

The March 27, 1910 NY Times announced that Jones and the Franco-American Taximeter Companies were being consolidated as the American Taximeter Company. For the next decade American Taximeter dominated the market, however a competitor, the Ohmer Fare Register Co., of Dayton, Ohio introduced a printing taximeter in 1915 which by the early twenties had become so popular that Ohmer was able to acquire the chief competitor, American, in 1924.

In early 1910 Shaw organized the Walden W. Shaw Auto Livery Co of St. Louis, a totally separate firm not included in the Maine reorganization. Shaw’s St. Louis operations commenced on February 1, 1910 as evidenced by the sign in the background of a photograph of one of the firm’s French-style Jewell-Keeton (Croxton-Keeton) landaulet taxicabs pictured to the left.

Hertz continued to place small items of interest in the automobile trades and motoring columns of the nation’s papers. The following tidbit was published by a number of papers on April 5, 1912:


“CHICAGO, April 2.—The Walden Shaw company, a taxicab company, announced that it will add to its staff twenty women drivers as soon as that number can pass the required city examination. John Hertz, manager of the Shaw concern, expressed confidence that the innovation will eliminate many of the objections to the man-driven cars.

"Among these are:
Impertinence to customers.
Overcharging for their own benefit
Recklessness and fast driving.
Inattention to the company's business."

By early 1912 Shaw’s Michigan Ave., facility became too small to handle the firm’s expanding livery business, so they relocated to larger facilities located at 1912-1914 Grand Ave. and the vacated site was leased to the Chicago Lozier distributor as recorded by the April 25, 1912 issue of the Automobile:

“Lozier Leases New Building—The Lozier Motor Car Company, Detroit, Mich., has leased from Walden W. Shaw the two-story building in process of construction on the west side of Michigan avenue for a term of 10 years.”

Although Hertz would take credit for reducing the fares of Chicago’s taxicabs in 1915, just two years previous he had vigorously lobbied to raise them. 

In 1913, George Gazely, manager of the Hotel LaSalle had been warned by Hertz that if the fares weren’t increased, the Walden W. Shaw Livery Co. would have no choice other than to go out of business. In a conversation with Charles H. Herman, the author of “Recollections of Life & Doings in Chicago from the Haymarket Riot to the end of World War I, by An Old Timer”, Gazely stated:

“Mr. Hermann, the Walden-Shaw Company has been furnishing the hotel with good cab service. It would be a blow to us to lose that service, and it looks like we are going to lose it. John Hertz came to me and said that they were operating at a loss, and must throw up the sponge unless they can get the City Council to permit them to raise their rates. He said that he believes that the Council will act favorably, but that the mayor will veto such an ordinance. Hertz would like to see you about that matter this morning, and has asked me to arrange for an appointment with you. I hope you will be good enough to see him and listen to what he has to say.”

As the owner of Chicago’s famous Chapin and Gore's Saloon and Distillers, Hermann was one of Chicago’s most well-connected businessmen. He replied:

“Gazely, the mayor doesn't ask advice from the likes of me on matters of that nature. I can't promise to be of any help, but if Mr. Hertz, whom I don't know, wants to come here, I'll be glad to talk with him.”

Gazely said:

“That's all I want, and I'll thank you if you'll listen to what Hertz has to say, and if you can be of help in that matter, it will surely mean much to the Hotel LaSalle.”

Hermann recalled that it seemed to him that Hertz must have been waiting nearby for a reply as within thirty minutes he was in Hermann’s office at the Chapin & Gore Saloon.

Hertz informed him that Chicago was not yet taxicab minded as in other cities like London, Paris, and New York, taxicabs could be hailed anywhere on the street when empty and would pick up fares. Hertz told him:

"In Chicago, a party will engage one of our cabs to take them to South Shore Country Club, the Edgewater Beach Hotel, or some other distant point and return without picking up a passenger. That condition is what broke our predecessors. We have been operating at a loss, and I'm telling you confidentially that we can't go any further unless we can get an increase in rates to stay in effect until such time as our cabs can get passengers on their return trips. When that condition prevails, we will voluntarily reduce our rates. If the City Council does not enact an ordinance to allow us to make a fair increase in our rates, we are through, and Chicago will again be without a taxicab service."

Hermann assured Hertz that he agreed with him, and sincerely hoped that he would succeed in getting what he was after, but couldn't see where he could be of any help in the matter. To that Hertz replied:

"Mr. Hermann, I have taken this matter up with several aldermen, and I feel quite certain that we can succeed in getting such an ordinance passed, but all seem to think that Mayor Harrison will veto it, so we cannot get anywhere unless we have the mayor's assurance that he will sign such a bill. Now, I am wondering if you could see your way clear to explain our troubles to the mayor and try to obtain that assurance from him."

Hermann advised Hertz he didn't believe that he could be of much help to him, but agreed to talk to the Mayor at their next luncheon. At the meeting Hermann asked Harrison if he would have preferred to carry his suitcase and walk home or pay a dollar and a quarter for a taxicab. His reply was, "What are you driving at?"

Hermann explained the situation, telling him about previous taxicab concerns going broke, all the while hitting home Hertz’ assertion that unless the rates were raised the Walden-Shaw Company would fold. Hermann told him:

"That will not only make you walk from the station to your home, but it will be a 'knock' to Chicago as hotel guests will have no way of obtaining up-to-date transportation which should be available in a big city like Chicago."

The Mayor agreed that, as a temporary remedy, he might not be against such an ordinance, but he needed more specifics pertaining to the facts and figures. Hermann explained that the matter was being investigated by a committee of the Chicago Association of Commerce, of which he was the chair.

The fare committee met with representatives of Chicago’s taxicab operator, obtaining a detailed report of their investments, expenses, and complete, detailed operating costs. They compared them with reports from the cities of London, Paris, and New York to see how their system could be implemented in Chicago.

The Commerce Association’s fare committee presented its findings to Mayor Harrison on November 11, 1913, after which it was presented to the City Council, who passed it, after which Harrison signed it into law.

Although Hertz claimed it was his personal investigation of the Parisian taxicab industry that led to the establishment of the Yellow Cab Co., in fact the work had already been done for him by the Chicago Association of Commerce’s study.

As the study was just one of the factors that contributed to the birth of the Yellow Cab Co. we can turn to Hertz’ account of the story as told to B.C. Forbes in 1924-25.

As manager of the Shaw Livery operation Hertz was responsible for dealing with the firm’s increasing labors problems which were compounded by periodic union slowdowns and walkouts that resulted from the initial 1909 strike. The resulting stress took a toll on Hertz’ health and his personal physician recommended he take some time off, so in late 1913, early 1914, Hertz went to Europe for a few months of rest and relaxation during which he made his study of the profitable Parisian cab industry.

At the time a short taxi ride in a Paris’ cab could be had for as little as ten cents, a small fraction of the cost of a corresponding ride in one of his own taxicabs. Hertz became convinced that he could increase the firm’s profits by applying many of the principles utilized by the French back in Chicago.

Upon his return to the States, Hertz slowly began implementing a number of evolutionary changes all aimed at improving service, increasing volume and reducing costs. The all-black Parisian cabs were of a uniform color and appearance, allowing them to be easily recognized by a potential customer.

In May 1909, well-known Manhattan automobile dealers, Wycoff, Church & Partridge, had placed a fleet of orange-yellow colored Rockwell taxicabs on the streets of Manhattan. Although Hertz is often credited with inventing the Yellow Cab, a claim perpetuated by B.C. Forbes who states that Hertz “commissioned a local university to ascertain scientifically which color would stand out strongest at a distance”, he was certainly not the first taxicab operator to use that color and the university study that Forbes refers to has yet to be discovered.

Although it is unknown if any yellow-painted cabs were in use in Chicago prior to the debut of Hertz’ Yellow Cabs, it’s doubtful Hertz was unaware of the hundreds of yellow cabs crowding the streets of Manhattan and other Eastern cities at the time.

Aside from their uniform color, another distinctive feature of the Parisian cabs was their efficient use of space. They were small and purpose-built, providing barely enough room for a small 4-cylinder engine, a driver and his fare of no more than four passengers.

At that time Shaw’s livery consisted of large and cumbersome 6-cylinder American landaulet-style taxis that could hold anywhere from 5 to 7 passengers, with plenty of room to spare. Smaller, lighter taxicabs would result in increased profits due to their lower initial cost and substantially reduced fuel and maintenance expenditures. However, the current crop of American mid-sized vehicles weren’t up to the task, so a specially designed, heavy-duty purpose-built taxicab would have to be built.

The smartly uniformed Parisian cabbies were also far more courteous than their American counterparts, a situation that Hertz also sought to rectify. He vowed to employ only the finest grade of men, specifically trained as courteous, efficient salesmen of the firm’s taxicab service. In return, Hertz would reward their service with respect, high wages, profit sharing and complimentary healthcare.

He also instituted an end to paying concessions to hotels, department stores, music halls and railroads for the privilege of monopolizing their cab stands. He reasoned that by offering dramatically better service at substantially lower prices, people would be willing to walk around the block to find one of his easily identifiable Yellow Cabs.

After months of preparation the first of Hertz’ specially designed taxicabs debuted on December 25, 1914, and after weeks of testing, limited production of the vehicle commenced at the former City Motor Cab Co. factory at 310 East Huron St., Chicago. Hertz and Shaw helped raise the $50,000 in cash used to capitalize the operation which was organized in early August as the Yellow Cab Company. The firm’s early taxis were powered by a 4-cylinder Continental engine equipped with a purpose-built taxicab body supplied by the Racine Body Co., of Racine, Wisconsin.

Yellow Cab kept one of the firm’s very first taxicabs for the next two decades, putting the 17-year-old 600,000 mile vehicle on display at the 1933-34 Century of Progress Exposition to showcase the strength and longevity of its products.

Finished cabs were kept in storage until August 2, 1915 when the firm’s initial fleet of 40 Yellow Cabs hit the streets. Hertz and his anxious investors sat back and waited to see if his ambitious scheme would yield the hoped-for results. The Yellow Cab was a great success and the by early 1916 eighty hands were busy turning out an average of 1 cab per day in the firm’s Huron St. shops.

The firm’s taxis were in such high demand that Hertz spearheaded a reorganization and recapitalization of the entire operation in the fall of 1916. The firm’s prospectus was included in the 1917 issue of Burnham's Manual of Chicago Securities as follows:


“Incorporated in New York, Oct. 30, 1916, to acquire, and now owns, the entire capital stocks of the Walden W. Shaw Livery Co. and the Yellow Cab Co., both of Chicago. The Walden W. Shaw Livery Co., owners and operators of 125 seven-passenger limousines, has been successfully engaged in the automobile livery business for the past nine years, its revenue consisting in large part of contract business with hotels, clubs, etc., and during the past two years it has also been engaged in the building of automobiles for itself, the Yellow Cab Co. and companies of like character in other large cities; this branch of the business has developed rapidly and is proving a profitable venture; the company now has unfilled orders for a large number of these vehicles. The Yellow Cab Co., owning and operating 270 smaller type automobiles, was organized in August, 1915, to furnish popular-priced taxicab service, and Its earnings have shown a steady growth. It is planned to build and put in operation an additional 25 of the larger cars and 700 additional Yellow cabs. The control and management of the business is to continue as before the consolidation. The employees of the Yellow Cab Co. have shared to the extent of approximately 20% of the profits since the organization of that company. The employees are said to have subscribed to $140,000 of the new preferred stock and are owners of a considerable amount of the common stock.

“Capital.—Authorized and issued, $900,000 7% Cum. Pfd. (Par $100) and 40,000 shares of Common stock of no specified par value. The company has no bonded debt.

“Dividends.—Pfd.: 7% per annum, payable Feb., May, Aug. and Nov. 1, initial payment to be made Feb. 1, 1917, 1%%. Common: None to date.

“Earnings—Combined net earnings of acquired companies, including the manufacturing department, during the first nine months of 1916 were $302,653, after allowance for depreciation of cars and equipment, in addition to the actual expenditures for maintenance. The depreciation allowance has been computed at 2c per mile for both companies, which for the nine months is equivalent to a rate of 20% per annum on the replacement value of the larger cars and equipment and at a rate of 33%% on the replacement value of the Yellow cabs and equipment. Net tangible assets as of Oct. 31, 1916, $1,052,135.

“Officers.—Pres., Walden W. Shaw; V. P. and Gen. Mgr., John Hertz; V. P., John Towne; Sec. and Treas., John Borden.

“Directors.—Walden W. Shaw, John Hertz, John Towne, Benjamin V. Becker, Edward D'Ancona, F. B. Hitchcock, Richard P. Lydon, M. S. Rosenwald.

“Office, Wabash Ave. and 11th St., Chicago.”

The success of the Yellow Taxicab, did not go unnoticed by other operators and orders for the vehicle started pouring into the Yellow Cab Manufacturing Co. Increased profits were also responsible for the acquisition of the Black and White Cab Co. by the Yellow Cab Co., the taxi operating arm of the Shaw organization.

The 1918 issue Burnham's Manual of Chicago Securities reveals how much the firm had expanded during the proceeding 12 months and provides a breakdown of the firm’s assets, earnings and expenses:

“Incorporated in New York, Oct. 30, 1916, to acquire, and now owns, the entire capital stocks of the Walden W. Shaw Livery Co. and the Yellow Cab Co., both of Chicago. The Walden W. Shaw Livery Co., owners and operators of a large number of seven-passenger limousines, has been successfully engaged in the automobile livery business for the past nine years, its revenue consisting in large part of contract business with hotels, clubs, etc., and during the past few years it has also been engaged in the building of automobiles for itself, the Yellow Cab Co. and companies of like character in other large cities, including New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Kansas City; this branch of the business has developed rapidly and has proven a profitable venture. The Yellow Cab Co., owning and operating 400 smaller type automobiles, was organized in August, 1915, to furnish popular-priced taxicab service, and its earnings have shown a steady growth. Since the consolidation the Black and White Cab Co. was acquired and a large number of new cars have been built and are now in operation. Employees of the company own a considerable amount of the stock, besides participating in the profits. The Parmelee Taxicab service was taken over in July, 1917. The new addition to the manufacturing plant, at Huron St. and Fairbank Court, Chicago, makes the plant the largest in America for the production of taxicabs and trucks.”

“Capital.—Authorized, $900,000 1% Cum. Pfd. (Par $100) and 40,000 shares of Common stock of no par value. Outstanding, $810,000 Pfd. and 40,000 shares of Common. $90,000 of the Preferred stock was retired in 1917. The company has no bonded debt.

“The preferred stock has preference as to assets and dividends and is callable during the year 1918 at 102 and divs., and at a price increasing $1.00 per share each year thereafter until 1926; if not all retired by 1926, then and thereafter the stock is redeemable at 115 and divs. The company is required to set aside annually from the surplus or net profits, after payment of the preferred divs., an amount sufficient to retire $90,000 Pfd. stock before any divs. may be paid on the common stock, and before dividends of over $6 per share in any year are paid on the common stock, an additional $50,000 shall be set aside during that year to retire the preferred stock. No bonds or securities having priority to the Pfd. stock may be issued, nor the Pfd. increased, without consent of 75% of Pfd. stock outstanding.

“Dividends.—Pfd.: 7% per annum, payable Jan., Apr., July and Oct. 1, from Apl. 1, 1917, to date; initial dividend, 14% paid Jan. 1, 1917, for period Nov. 1, 1916, to Jan. 1, 1917. Common: $5.00 per share per annum, Feb., May, Aug. and Nov. 15, from May 15, 1917, to date.

“Earnings (Including Acquired Companies.)

9 Months Ended Sept. 30

Calendar Years     1917      1916      1915     1914
Gross Earnings   $ 909,671   $ 622,746   $ 830,667   $ 763,783
Less Refunds, etc   $  17,607   $  42,711   $   65,404   $   61,251
Net Earnings   $ 982,004   $ 580,035   $ 771.263   $ 702,532
Total Expenses   $ 783,479   $ 466,238   $ 647,300   $ 591,603
Net from Ops   $ 198,585   $ 113,797   $ 123,963   $ 110,924
Other Income   $  18,701   $  65,683   $   32,839   $ 650
Total Income   $ 217,286   $ 179,480   $ 150,802   $ 110,274
Deductions:   $  40,633   $    8,350   $   22,044   $   10,175
Net Profits   $ 176,653   $ 170,130   $ 134,758   $ 100,099
Expenses (reorg. of W.W. Shaw Corp)   $    6,526                  
Balance Applicable to Dividends   $ 170,127   $ 170,130   $ 134,758   $ 100,099
Divds. on Preferred Stock   $  20,432                  
Surplus     $ 149,695   $ 170,130   $ 134,758   $ 100,099

“The Profits shown are after making liberal provision for maintenance, depreciation and claims.

“Balance Sheet.—Feb. 28, 1918:

Assets Fiscal 1917:    
Cabs and Equipment $   690,299
Buildings, Improvements, etc $   130,397
Machinery, Tools, etc $     47,501
Drawings $     32,151
Privileges and Franchises $     91,250
Materials and Supplies $   219,610
Accounts Receivable $   115,052
Cash $     70,846
Rent Guarantee, etc $     30,134
Pref. Stock redeemed in treasury $     61,554
Deferred Charges $     23,069
Total $ 1,511,864
Liabilities Fiscal 1917:    
Notes Payable $     75,000
Accounts Payable $     83,395
Adv. Pymnts on cabs to be mfrd $     23,226
Preferred Stock divds. accrued $     10,500
Unpaid Bonus $     13,425
Reserve for Damages, etc $     33,758
Reserve for Maintenance $       4,359
Preferred Stock   $    900,000
Net worth of assets applicable to $    368,201
40,000 shares of Common Stock    
Total $ 1,511,864

“Officers.—Pres., Walden W. Shaw; V. P. and Gen. Mgr., John Hertz; V. P., John Towne; Sec. and Treas., John Borden.

“Directors.—Walden W. Shaw, John Hertz, John Towne, Benjamin V. Becker, Edward D'Ancona, F. B, Hitchcock, Richard P. Lydon, M. S. Rosenwald. Office, Wabash Ave. and 11th St., Chicago. Transfer Agent.—First Trust & Savings Bank, Chicago.”

The phenomenal popularity and profitability of Hertz’ Yellow Taxis did not escape the notice of taxicab operators in other cities and Hertz soon began providing vehicles and operating franchises to firms located across the country. His planning was so thorough that of the hundreds of customers and franchisees that were enrolled in the late teens and early twenties the failure rate was less than 1%. Yellow Cab periodically sent out engineers and accountants to large franchisees to help reduce operating costs and improve their service.

At the time Hertz’ management team included Clinton T. Ziegler, sales manager and assistant engineer; Rudolph D. Wolff, mechanical efficiency engineer; and William F. Dick chief draftsman and body engineer.

Even though the firm enjoyed great financial success, they continued to be plagued by periodic strikes in their hometown of Chicago as evidenced by an item in the November 1918 issue of the Official Magazine of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Stablemen, and Helpers of America:

“The following telegram was received this morning, which explains itself:

“Chicago, Ill., October 28, 1918. D. J. Tobin, 222 E. Michigan St., Indianapolis, Ind.:

Following telegram sent to President Wilson, Secretary of War Baker and Secretary of Labor Wilson:

“‘Teamsters Joint Council No. 25 of Chicago, affiliated with the American Federation of Labor, representing 20,000 union teamsters and chauffeurs of this city, wishes to enter protest issuance of contracts by the War Department to the notorious scab concern of Walden W. Shaw Corporation of Chicago, for taxicab service for officers and others connected with the War Department throughout the United States. The concern has had a strike of chauffeurs, who are affiliated with this council, on for some time past. Appreciating a favorably reply.’

“Kindly follow up same by entering protest as soon as possible from International Union to above named parties.

“T. F. NEARY, Secretary-Treasurer Local No. 727.”

In 1918 the Walden W. Shaw Auto Livery Co. ceased operating taxicabs altogether, confining its activities entirely to manufacturing taxicabs. It was subsequently renamed the Yellow Cab Manufacturing Co. on June 29, 1920.

Most of Yellow Cab’s competitors were out of business by mid-1920, with their only serious competition being the Checker Cab Company, a small firm founded in 1919 by an Oak Park, Illinois cabbie named Frank Dilger. Checker differed from Yellow in that it was an association of independent owner-operators operating under a single livery, easily identified by their distinctive green and cream paint scheme and logo.

By mid 1920 Checker’s operations were overseen by Michael M. Sokoll (aka Mike Sokol), a competent street-wise manager who proved successful in uniting the city’s remaining independents into the Checker fold.

Hertz saw Checker as a threat and took steps to insure that life was made difficult for the firm. He enjoyed close ties to the administration of Mayor William H. Thompson, and ordinances were passed by the Chicago city council which served to benefit Yellow Cab. The most helpful being an amendment to the 1895 Cab Stand Ordinance that required cabbies to obtain a city-issued permit before they were allowed to work out of a municipal cab stand.

Coincidentally, Parmelee’s Charles A. McCullough was also a good friend of Mayor Thompson.

The Yellow Cab story is continued on page 2

© 2004 Mark Theobald -






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Harry W. Perry - A New Relief To City Traffic: The Success of Motor Cabs and Buses in London and Paris - The World's Work, Volume 14, pub. 1907.

Harry Wilkin Perry - Taximeter Cab Service In New York – Motor Traction, May 2, 1908 issue.

Sleeve Valve Coaches, TaxiCabs and Trucks (3-part series) Issue #s 103, 104, 105 (1st, 2nd & 3rd quarters 1988) The Starter, Quarterly Journal of the Willys-Overland Knight Register

Stanley K. Yost & Kathryn Bassett - Taxi! a Look at Checkers Past, pub 1990

James Hinckley - Checker Cab Co. Photo History, pub 2003

Bobby Lowich - The Great Chicago Taxi War, The Checkerboard, Official Journal of the Checker Car Club of America, October 1995 issue 

Richard J. Whalen - The Founding Father: the Story of Joseph P. Kennedy, pub 1964

David E. Koskoff - Joseph P. Kennedy: a Life and Times, pub 1974

Doris Kearns Goodwin - The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys, pub 1991

Ted Schwarz - Joseph P. Kennedy: the Mogul, the Mob, the Statesman, and the Making of an ‎American Myth, pub 2003

Chicago's Early Buses – Motor Coach Age, December 1973 issue

Chicago Motor Coach Co. - Yellow Z-67, Motor Coach Age, August 1975 issue

Chicago Motor Coach Co. - Early Buses, Motor Coach Age, December 1973 issue

Chicago Motor Coach Co. The Boulevard Route, Motor Coach Age, March 1972 issue

Fifth Avenue Coach Corp. - Motor Coach Age, July 1971 issue

Comprehensive Omnibus Corp. - Motor Coach Today, January 2004 issue

Carlton Jackson - Hounds of the road: a history of the Greyhound Bus Company‎ - Pub 1984

History of Greyhound Pts. 1-3 - Motor Coach Age, March, May & June 1954 issues

Yellow Coach Part 1 - Origins; General & Corporate History, Motor Coach Age Jul 1989

Yellow Coach Part 2 - Conventional Buses 1932 to 1937, Motor Coach Age Sep 1990

Yellow Coach Part 3 - Integral Buses 1931 to 1942, Motor Coach Age Jul 1991

Yellow Coach Part 4 - Monocoque Transits 1940 to 1959, Motor Coach Age Jul 1992

Yellow Coach Part 5 - Monocoque Parlors 1939 to 1980, Motor Coach Age Jul 1993

John Gunnell - GMC: The First 100 Years

Jim Klein and Martha Olson - Taken For A Ride (PBS Movie)

Cliff Slater - General Motors and the Demise of Streetcars - Transportation Quarterly vol 51, 1997

Bradford C. Snell - American Ground Transport: A Proposal for Restructuring the Automobile, Truck, Bus and Rail Industries. Report presented to the Committee of the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Antitrust and Monopoly, United States Senate, February 26, 1974

Modern Marvels: Buses - History Channel program

William A. Luke - Yellow Coach Buses 1923 Through 1943: Photo Archive

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