In London a hackney or hackney carriage (also called a black cab, hack or London taxi) is a carriage or automobile for hire. This bold B&W photograph was taken at the Liverpool St. “London Underground” station merely one block from certain set locations for both “Match Point” by Woody Allen and “Basic Instinct 2”. In the United Kingdom, the name hackney carriage refers to a taxicab licensed by the Public Carriage Office in Greater London. In the United States, the police department of the city of Boston has a Hackney Carriage Unit, analogous to taxicab regulators in other cities, that issues Hackney Carriage medallions to its operators. Thus the origin of the New York colloquial term “hack” (taxi or taxi-driver), “hackstand” (taxi stand), and “hack license” (taxi license) are derived from “hackney carriage”.
The name ‘hackney’ was once thought to be an anglicized derivative of French haquenée—a horse of medium size recommended for lady riders; however, current opinion is that it is derived from the village name Hackney (now part of London). The first documented ‘hackney coach’—the forerunner of the more generic ‘hackney carriage’—operated in London in 1621. Astoundingly, “electric hackney carriages” appeared even before the introduction of the internal combustion engine to vehicles for hire in 1901..pre-dating recent automobile innovations such as the Chevrolet Volt, Toyota Prius etc. by 110 years!