When Taxi’s Sunshine Cab Company Made A Home in Greenwich Village

When Taxi’s Sunshine Cab Company Made A Home in Greenwich Village
Opening of the show Taxi with the actor Tony Danza who played the character Tony Banta on the show driving a cab across the Queensborough Bridge

On this day in 1978, the award-winning television show Taxi aired its first episode. The much-loved pathos-filled comedy set in a New York full of misfits, dreamers, and malcontents largely took place in the garage of the fictional Sunshine Cab Company,  shown to be at 534 Hudson Street, at the corner of Charles Street in Greenwich Village.

Opening of the show Taxi with the actor Tony Danza who played the prizefighter/cab driver character Tony Banta on the show driving a cab across the Queensborough Bridge

In the first episode, the central character Alex Reiger, played by Judd Hirsch, summed up the premise of the show when new cab driver Elaine Nardo, played by Marilu Henner, explains that although she has taken the job as a driver with the Sunshine Cab Company, she is not a cab driver, but really a receptionist at an art gallery.  Alex responds describing the other ‘cab drivers’ in the company:

You see that guy over there? Now he’s an actor. The guy on the phone? He’s a prize fighter. This lady here? She’s a beautician. The guy behind her? He’s a writer. Me? I’m a cab driver. I’m the only cab driver in this place.

The other memorable characters included Tony Banta played by Tony Danza, the prizefighter with a losing record; Bobby Wheeler played by Jeff Conaway, the struggling actor; Louie De Palma played by Danny DeVito, the irascible and abusive dispatcher; Latka Gravas played by Andy Kaufman, the immigrant mechanic; and, my favorite, Reverend Jim “Iggy” Ignatowski played by Christopher Lloyd, the burnt out, aging hippie minister who originally started as a guest character and became a regular during season two.

534 Hudson — today home to a Rite Aid, luxury condos, and probably a bit less pathos than Taxi’s “Sunshine Cab Co.” garage.

Many of the episodes of this hilarious series began with the camera scanning No. 534 at Hudson and Charles Streets. This 1920’s purpose-built, two-story garage was actually home to the Dover Garage, at a time when garages were a more common sight in this part of the Village. This building was replaced in 1998 by a six-story brick condominium, a more common sight today. But in the late 1970s, both the garage and the oddball characters grappling with life’s absurdities and their own aspirations felt right at home in the West Village.

The show left the viewing public with more than a few memorable storylines.  Who could forget such episodes as Jim taking his driver’s test, Latka and Simka’s (played by Carol Kane) wedding, the wrecking ball demolishing Jim’s apartment – with oblivious Jim continuing to eat his breakfast, or the sociopathic Louie meeting his girlfriend’s (played by DeVito’s real-life wife Rhea Pearlman) parents? Re-watching episodes of Taxi all these years later, I still find myself laughing hysterically, at a show which dealt intelligently with some very serious issues including gambling addiction, divorce, sexual harassment, bisexuality, immigration and racism.

Sign for the fictional “Sunshine Cab Company” on 534 Hudson Street

534 Hudson Street

534 Hudson Street

Hudson Street as shown in episode of Taxi in the opening credits.

Dover Garage at 534 Hudson Street. Source: http://krashkramer.blogspot.com/2011/03/arthur-alexander-soldier-of-love.html

Over the course of its five seasons (four with ABC and the last with NBC), the series won 18 Emmy awards including three for Best Comedy and four Golden Globes, three of which were for Best Television Comedy Series.  It was also ranked 48th in TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time, as published in 2002. In 1997, two of the show’s episodes, “Latka the Playboy” and “Reverend Jim: A Space Odyssey” were respectively ranked #19 and #63 on TV Guide’s 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time.

As said in the show’s closing credits, Goodnight Mr. Walters.

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4 comments on “When Taxi’s Sunshine Cab Company Made A Home in Greenwich Village
  1. Sarah Bean Apmann Robert says:

    Dover Garage was the first place I drove a cab, back in 1972. They didnt use Checkers, but Chevies instead. Every time I see the front of the garage at the opening or during the shows, I remember.

  2. I have often said because I drove at Dover starting in 1983 and was familiar with the real Ignatowski that the producers of this program did not only use the exterior of the Dover Garage, they hijacked some real personalities, definitely of Ignatowski. I was told about this buy some Old-Timers there. The shop stewards name was Henry Zeiger. Rhyme with any TV show character that you may remember? https://taxinights.blogspot.com/2007/04/i-knew-real-ignatowski.html?m=1
    I have finally written the book that I mentioned in that post and I will be publishing as an ebook in a few days.

  3. Sarah Bean Apmann Len Flatoff says:

    Love The Show Taxi Watch it Every Night On My DVD’s I ordered Wish we Could Go Back To Those Good Ole Days!!!! Len Flatoff, Wisconsin Rapids, Wi. 54494

  4. Sarah Bean Apmann Len Flatoff says:

    Love Taxi, Recently Ordered The Complete 136 Shows Love Watching Them Every Night. Sucks how Time goes by so Fast!!! Miss the good ole days when I watch taxi it brings me Back To Them!!! Len Flatoff Here in Wisconsin Rapids,Wi. 54494

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