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July 16: The first parking meter was installed on this date in 1935

Justin Hyde

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Yes, yes, by all historical accounts the invention by newspaperman Carl C. Magee of the parking meter — with the help of an explosion-timer company in Oklahoma — brought order and untold benefits to downtown business districts. Before meters, streets were clogged with workers' cars, and shoppers had to walk. Afterward, business boomed, although the city of Tulsa had to install the first meters at night on this date in 1935 to avoid a public furor. Today, thanks to meters there's...still no spaces at peak time, and if you find one, the ticket cost of overstaying your visit is often enough to make one rethink the reason for the trip in the first place. No city has it worse than Chicago, where thanks to a wicked 2008 outsourcing deal drivers have to pay $6.50 an hour to park on downtown streets — which is enforced until 10 p.m. And what other device has ever turned charity into a crime?

Photo: Tofutti break via Flickr

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