Once Manhattan will discontinue its fleet of yellow cabs, as a consequence, the city’s streetscape will undergo what would be, perhaps, the biggest aesthetic change since taxis were forced to be painted yellow in 1970.
The only comparison, an admittedly partial one, would be with the decision of the city of San Francisco to acquire wholesale an entire stock of orange trolleys from the Department of Transportation of Milan, in Italy, ship them overseas, and then utilize them in Castro, completed with the Milanese heraldic symbol of the red cross over a white shield, as an additional marker of the proud architectural “zoning” and distinction of that gay and lesbian district.
The three projects submitted to the City Hall reflect a departure from the traditionally cramped legroom in the backseat and present generous features in terms of size. Whoever wins, the next Manhattan cab will be bulkier than slicker, in a surprising gestalt of capitalistic and aesthetic innovation. The likely presence of a rear-facing drop seat, moreover, would encourage conversation among passengers and maybe even the possibility of carpooling. One way or another, the overall experience will be similar to a minibus ride, unless you upgrade it to a limousine service.
In this respect, the credit scene of Tony Gilroy’s “Michael Clayton”—the acclaimed 2007 legal drama, one of the finest attempts to capture on film the symbolic pressure of corporate cash into the architectural structures of New York City—where the fixer interpreted by George Clooney is seeking relief after having negotiated his final deal in a looping Manhattan cabdrive would carry a much less individualistic undertone.
While the Ford design is the most traditional, Nissan’s entry has the potential for an entirely electric propulsion system. But it is the Karsan project that seems more encouraging for the final pick, being fully accessible to passengers in wheelchairs and including a wireless Internet service. Despite its remote industrial leadership, the choice of Karsan should not be seen as too eccentric. In 1998 the company started building a new factory in Akçalar, thanks to a U.S. investment of $70 million; and Karsan is under a licensing agreement with Fiat to produce “Ducato” minibus models.
Would it surprise you if Bloomberg’s final choice paradoxically ended up underscoring Obama’s insistence upon Turkey’s fully-fledged status within the economic and political structures of the Western world?