DEFY S. McQUAID! #54: Parking Meters – A History

The Question

Karen asks:

Dear Shaun (alias Dr. Hoogenheimer) Recently I moved back to my hometown—a quaint little place I am thoroughly enjoying. Every time I drive down Main Street I see something either very interesting or very amusing. Yesterday, I beheld what seemed to be, a very agitated person beating up one of the parking meters with a large piece of wood. This got me to thinking—–just how long have parking meters been in existance? Where were they first installed? I sincerely believe the ones in my town are in mortal danger……

Also, wasn’t that picture on the “Defy Shaun McQuaid” banner the same one that was on your bedroom door for years???

The Answer

Well, it’s an interesting question. It turns out that (with a few disagreeing folks) the parking meter was invented in 1935 by a fellow who goes by the name of Carl C. Magee. Mr. Magee had been appointed to the “traffic committee” of Oklahoma City, and was trying to resolve parking issues stemming from the fact that the employees of stores were taking all of the on-street parking, and customers couldn’t park. (This seems a little self-defeating on the part of the employees – but who am I to judge?). He applied for his patent that year and was awarded it in 1938. Of course, the first boxes were not armored, and it was simply a matter of swatting the box with a piece of wood to extricate the change within. Perhaps your meter attacker was a time-traveler from the past, who didn’t realize that parking meters are now impervious to wooden assault?

Indeed, the “Defy S. McQuaid” picture has been in my possession for many, many years. However, Mike D. has not yet seen fit to return it to the page, or update it for today’s discerning audience….perhaps this prod will push him in the right direction?

One thought on “DEFY S. McQUAID! #54: Parking Meters – A History

  • 1/24/2006 at 12:22 pm

    No such luck.

    Passive aggresive requests get filed under N for “Notgonnahappenwhat’sthatshinythingovertherebye”

    So try a regular request for fixitude.


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