On this day in auto history - July 16th

Fri 16th Jul 2021

It was on this day in 1935 that the world’s first parking meter came into operation in America, charging 5 cents per hour.

Known as ‘Park-O-Meter No.1’, it was installed in Oklahoma City and was the brainchild of local newspaper editor Carl Magee who had joined the city’s chamber of commerce with a brief to solve the city’s chronic parking problem which was badly affecting downtown trade.

Magee - a colourful, one-time attorney who had been controversially acquitted of manslaughter charges eight years earlier - patented his “coin-controlled parking meter” having crafted a design with the help of a former engineering student and a local plumber. 

Initially 175 meters were installed in Oklahoma City with hugely success results. Not only did the meters straighten out the city’s parking issues almost overnight but they also raised vital extra revenue for the city coffers, whilst also stimulating growth in the valuation of downtown commercial property.

With the help of 125 businessmen, Magee quickly incorporated the Dual Parking Meter Company and began selling them to local authorities all over America, to the extent that over 140,000 were in operation by 1940.

Having also made a fortune from oil trading, Magee later made an unsuccessful run for the American senate with the Democrat Party before dying of a heart attack in 1946.