16 July 1935: The world’s first parking meter, known as Park-O-Meter No. 1, is installed on the southeast corner of what was then First Street and Robinson Avenue in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
It was a Mr Carl C. Magee who first thought up the concept of the parking meter. You can read a bit more about this colourful character here.
Of course this outlandish new concept wasn’t so congenially accepted, however enterprising minds won out and the first meters were installed by the Dual Parking Meter Company in July 1935. Back then and hour’s parking cost $0,05USD (a little less than the cost of a loaf of bread in those days), equivalent to $0,85USD today. Considering that it costs upwards of £2.70 per hour in central London – we can see how times and rates and demands for parking have changed.
The meters were placed at 20-foot intervals along the curb which corresponded to spaces painted on the pavement. Once retailers spied the forced turnover of potential customers, these futuristic steel beacons became commonplace on the streets in the US commercial districts. Drivers begrudgingly accepted their presence, as they saw them as a practical necessity for regulating parking. By the early 1940s, there were more than 140,000 parking meters operating in the United States.
I’m not sure we can calculate the presence of parking meters (in whatever form they appear nowadays) across the globe. Needless to say that although they have been the industry standard for a good eighty years, we’re now looking toward a future of contactless and mobile payments, so the ol’ Park-O-Meter may not be a key feature of our streets for much longer…
So, sing it with me. “For he’s a jolly good fellow.. and so say all of us!!” (all of us in the parking industry that is).