New York lost a legend this week: Johnnie "Spider" Footman, the city's oldest taxi driver, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 94.
Footman started driving cabs in 1945, and was (slowly) picking up fares as recently as 2012. Sometime last year he stopped taking passengers, but was still a beloved fixture at the Long Island City depot he'd worked at for decades. "He’d drive into the office in his old Chevy Blazer,” co-worker Jerry Nazar told the Observer. “Especially if there were any young ladies around. He was like that. One lady told him that if he made it to one hundred they’d get married.”
Raised in segregated Florida, Footman moved to New York in 1937. "My mother told my uncle, ‘Take him away from here, because he’s going to get killed,'" he told the Post last year. He started driving a cab a few years later, picking up the likes of John Wayne and Rock Hudson. His notably dapper style—shirt and tie, newsboy cap, cigar in mouth—never changed, and he'd been featured in a few documentaries, the most recent of which, Drivers Wanted, screened at Footman's depot last Saturday.