Street Fight: A Discussion with Author Anne Morrissy

We are delighted to welcome Anne Morrissy for a discussion featuring her new book, Street Fight: The Chicago Taxi Wars of the 1920s. Working from extensive research and interviews with descendants and experts, Ms. Morrissy vividly recreates Chicago’s Taxi Wars, bringing to print for the first time this deeply compelling but nearly forgotten story. Buffeted by a supporting cast of colorful combatants and larger-than-life Jazz Age characters, this historical account restores these deadly wars that played out on the city’s streets a century ago, endangering the lives of passengers and passersby, while at the same time forming the regulatory foundation that still governs cab, limo and rideshare transportation in the 21st century.

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More About the Book: Bricks and bottles of acid through the windshield. Bullets shot from the running boards of racing cabs, passengers screaming in the backseat. Bombs exploding in garages, beneath parked cars, on the front porches of jurors’ homes. Accusations of favoritism and collusion with city leaders and law enforcement; bribery and extortion and grand jury investigations. Mysterious accidents and brutal attacks and devastating fires, leaving a trail of widows in their wake. These were Chicago’s Taxi Wars, a violent and deadly battle for supremacy of the city’s new and lucrative taxi industry during the Jazz Age.

In 1915, at the dawn of the automobile era, visionary car salesman John D. Hertz (better remembered today for his successful foray into rental cars) and his partner, Walden W. Shaw, founded Chicago’s Yellow Cab Company. This wildly successful venture would go on to inform and inspire the modern taxi industry as we know it today in Chicago and throughout the United States. But as the Roaring Twenties glamorized lawlessness on the city’s streets, Yellow Cab’s meteoric rise invited increasingly aggressive competitors. Cab drivers battled each other in the streets over fares, allegiances and turf claims, their skirmishes escalating from sophomoric pranks to cold-blooded murder, mass shootings, and acts of domestic terrorism. In the 1920s, one rival in particular ascended to pose a threat to Yellow Cab’s dominance: the Checker Taxi Company. Behind the scenes, pulling the strings at Checker, was Morris Markin, who was desperate to expand his influence even as Chicago’s gangsters attempted to wrest his control away.

Chicago Review of Books says, “Written like a heart racing thriller or true crime podcast, Street Fight is a fascinating look at this understudied conflict in the city’s history that combined a perfect storm of labor suppression, organized crime, government corruption, and turf warfare. Anne Morrissy’s latest is a must-read for history buffs of all kinds.”

More About the Author: Anne Morrissy is a writer and magazine editor with a passion for narrative history. Her first book, Running the Reds: The First 100 Years of the Water Safety Patrol, 1920-2020, was published in 2019. A graduate of Kenyon College, she splits her time between Chicago and Williams Bay, Wisconsin.

Event date: 

Thursday, June 20, 2024 - 6:30pm to 7:30pm

Event address: 

The Book Stall
811 Elm Street
Winnetka, IL 60093
Street Fight: The Chicago Taxi Wars of the 1920s By Anne Morrissy Cover Image
$29.95
ISBN: 9781493068678
Availability: On Our Shelves Now--Subject to Availability
Published: Lyons Press - March 5th, 2024

Bricks and bottles of acid through the windshield. Bullets shot from the running boards of racing cabs, passengers screaming in the backseat. Bombs exploding in garages, beneath parked cars, on the front porches of jurors' homes. Accusations of favoritism and collusion with city leaders and law enforcement; bribery and extortion and grand jury investigations.