New York's Oldest Taxi Driver Dies at 94

Johnnie 'Spider' Footman had been driving cabs about 70 years

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 15, 2013 5:57 PM CDT

(Newser) – Johnnie Footman has collected his last fare. Footman, the oldest cab driver in New York, died this week, age 94, reports the New York Times. "He was here Monday and he died Tuesday," says an owner of the 55 Stan cab depot in Queens where Footman worked. According to the Times' obit, Footman—better known as "Spider"—wore a spider pendant around his neck and a hat that said "Old Dude made of Achey Breaky Parts!" He would warn passengers that he was a slow driver due to his age, though he had an impeccable driving record and had never had an accident while working at 55 Stan.

Footman was born in Florida, but moved to New York to escape racism, says a filmmaker who recently made a documentary about 55 Stan. He got his start in the taxi business pumping gas and fixing cars at a depot in Hell's Kitchen. It's unclear exactly when Footman first got his taxi license, but the commissioner New York City's Taxi Commission says it was "only a few short years" after the creation of the city's modern taxi industry in 1937. "He’ll be missed,” he says. "He was one of those drivers who knew the streets, knew his cab and knew his passengers, and he balanced all three perfectly."

A detail of a hybrid taxi cab is photographed outside New York's City Hall.
A detail of a hybrid taxi cab is photographed outside New York's City Hall.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
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