May 20: Electric taxi driver gets first U.S. speeding ticket on this date in 1899

The men behind the Electric Vehicle Co. thought they had the 20th century by the scruff of the neck. After two inventors had fashioned a working electric vehicle in 1894, they formed an electric taxicab company in New York, that grew enough to be backed by a wealthy industrialist. As of 1899, there were 60-odd electric taxicabs in the city, and while they were heavy and slow by modern standards, they were a marvel of luxury compared to staring at a horse's behind over cobblestone streets. On this day in 1899, an EV driver named Jacob German was flagged down by a New York City police officer — Bicycle Roundsman Schuessler — who found his cab to be traveling at an unacceptable speed, which the officer estimated at 12 mph. German would receive America's first citation for speeding in a car, a historical note that has outlived the Electric Vehicle company, which foundered and collapsed a couple of years later. You can catch a glimpse of an EV taxi at work — and see why 12 mph would have been so fast — in this famous clip shot by Thomas Edison of 23rd Street: