Chicago, Illinois -- Thursday, September 19, 2019
John Henry Assabill, the founder of the Gold Coast Taxi fleet, poses for a portrait in his home office. Assabill encouraged other Ghanian taxi drivers to buy medallions as an investment, including when prices reached $300,000 per medallion. Today, two-thirds of the men have filed or are in the process of filing for bankruptcy, Assabill said.
The city of Chicago gave Assabill a taxi medallion for being the best driver in 2004, but Assabill was talked into borrowing against the medallion and eventually went bankrupt.
Chicago taxi medallions, now worth about $25,000, were once valued at nearly $400,000. The market's crash and predatory loans caused many medallion owners to declare bankruptcy in a situation made worse by the introduction of ride share apps like Lyft and Uber to the market.
CREDIT: Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times