L&K taxis: the hallmark of a big city
September 7, 1907 was the glorious day in the history of Prague taxis, and a milestone event for Central Europe. On the first day, a LAURIN & KLEMENT B2 car enters the test phase, followed by C2 miniature cars. The very next day, the inhabitants of Prague were able to enjoy a ride in the first four taxis.
In the words of the popular contemporary magazine Světozor, “Prague’s motor taxis rolled into squares and streets, giving them the feeling of a big city. These cabs certainly represent the sure traffic of the future, because against them, when their transport becomes a little cheaper, all competition from ordinary cabs and cabs will be futile. What today seems a sensational novelty will soon acquire the full right of daily use and indispensability for the public.
A vintage LAURIN & KLEMENT advertisement announcing the launch of the taxi service in Prague
The first taxi drivers sought to attract their target group of customers, i.e. the more affluent citizens arriving in the city by train, by locating a taxi rank in front of the current Masaryk railway station, with d others in the streets Havlíčkova ulice and Ferdinandova třída (which is the current Národní, or national avenue) and at the powder gate. The LAURIN & KLEMENT newspaper advertisement emphasizes comfort and low prices, but contemporary sources fail to mention actual rates. We also read that “proceeds from day one fares will go to the city’s poor”, meaning the proceeds were donated to charity. Taxis – but not all – were already equipped with meters and the journey could be followed on a mechanical meter. The term “taximeter” soon began to be used as a nickname for motor taxis themselves in Prague, as evidenced by contemporary newspapers, magazines, films, and witness recollections.