Platinum Anniversary for Parking Meters

Frank Williams
by Frank Williams

The next time you're fumbling around for coins to feed the meter so you can run into Starbucks for a venti half-caff triple mocha soy latte with a shot, thank Carl Magee. In 1932, he invented the parking meter as a solution to parking problems in downtown Oklahoma City. As recounted in the Wall Street Journal, his invention was met with ridicule, indignation and lawsuits. For a while, it looked like the courts would side with the public. But greed civic responsibility eventually prevailed, and the "combination of an alarm clock and a slot machine which is being used for further socking the motorist" became commonplace. But it wasn't just motorists who had to pay. In 1936, San Antonio city officials forced farmers to park their horse-drawn wagons at what became a coin-op hitching post.

Frank Williams
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  • Ken Strumpf Ken Strumpf on Aug 01, 2007

    The city of Syracuse, NY has something even more evil than the conventional meter. You have to put money into a machine that spits out a piece of paper telling how long you've paid to park. You display the paper in the windshield. That way you can't piggyback off of someone who overpaid and left time on the meter. Also, in January when it's 5 below zero and you're fumbling in your pocket for your last quarter and drop it in a snowbank because your fingers are frozen, you'd better dig it out or you will be ticketed.

  • Blunozer Blunozer on Aug 01, 2007

    What's amazing is some of the new tech being placed in these things: 1/ Motion sensors to reset the meter as soon as you drive away, keeping people from piggybacking off your payment. see 2/ Wireless communication that informs the meter-maid when your time runs out.

  • Optic Optic on Aug 01, 2007

    seattle's implemented the paper-in-window thingies. the annoyance of not being able to piggyback off others' leftover time is balanced by the convenience of not having to carry quarters, and of being able to continue using your time if you go park somewhere else. wireless meter-maid informing though, that sucks.

  • Yankinwaoz Yankinwaoz on Aug 01, 2007

    They use the ticking vending machine here in Australia. You CAN piggyback off unused time. People with a lot of time left on their ticket will often give their ticket to others.