Uber Who? How To Hail a Cab the Old-Fashioned Way

Feb 17, 2015 06:00 PM EST | Jordan Ecarma


Hailing a cab may be a disappearing art form nowadays as ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft grow in popularity. But if you want to feel like a real city-goer, summoning a taxi sans technology is something you need to know how to do.

Here are few tips on hailing a cab without looking like a tourist.

Watch the lights.

Nothing screams provincial like flailing your arms at cab after cab without results. Keep an eye on the roof lights of each approaching taxi to see if it's available or not. A cab that's already occupied won't be lit up, while one that's free will be lit in the middle. Cabs that aren't taking passengers should have lights spelling out "off duty." For a visual, New York blogger Joanna Goddard has the breakdown pictured with Legos here.

Factor in location and time of day.

Midtown Manhattan at 3 in the afternoon and midtown Manhattan at midnight will be a bit different, but you should be able to find a cab fairly easily at either time. But an afternoon in midtown Manhattan versus say, 3 a.m. down in the mostly-deserted-by-then Financial District? A different proposition. Don't rely on being able to walk outside and immediately find a cab unless you know the area or are sticking close to the tourist-heavy parts of Manhattan.

Be intentional.

Don't be afraid to step out into the street--as long as it isn't too far--and hold your hand high. Try to look blasé about it if you want to pass as a local.

Know your cross-streets.

You know how in movies, characters can jump into a cab, give the name of a place or a street address and tell the driver to "step on it?" Don't do that. Especially if you're in New York City, know the closest intersecting streets to your desired location and a landmark or two if possible. Note: This rule may not apply in Washington, D.C., where the roads are so confusing nobody knows what's going on anyway.

When in doubt, pull a Claudette Colbert ... just kidding.

But any excuse to watch this clip, right?

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