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Parking meter, M. H. Rhodes

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Parking meter, M. H. Rhodes


This object appears in the following sections:

Americans Adopt the Auto:
Americans Adopt the Auto — Licensing Cars and Drivers

M. H. Rhodes parking meter
Catalog #: 1988.0814.19, Accession #: 1988.0814
Currently on display
From the Smithsonian Collection
M. H. Rhodes added parking meters to its line of household and industrial timing devices in the mid-1930s. This manual parking meter showed the number of minutes an automobile was parked over the time limit.
Physical Description
artifact. 15" H x 4" W x 3 "D. M. H. Rhodes Mark-Time parking meter, Pathfinder model. Spring-driven parking meter with art deco housing. Cast aluminum. Gray with red and white dial face.
Date Made:
late 1930s
Henry R. Stiffel
This parking meter is among the earliest ones installed. In the 1920s and early 1930s, inventors filed patent claims for timing devices that regulated parking in curb lanes; some proposals involved collecting a fee. Many cities-beginning with Oklahoma City in 1935-installed coin-operated, spring-driven parking meters beside curb lanes to increase turnover, help enforce violations, reduce traffic congestion resulting from inadequate or haphazard parking spaces, and add much-needed revenue to municipal treasuries. City officials believed that parking meters were necessary to cope with the influx of automobiles into downtown areas and give more motorists access to stores and other businesses. But motorists and merchants challenged the legality of meters, claiming that they annoyed shoppers, deprived merchants and their employees of access to their front doors, and imposed an unfair tax on right-of-ways that were open to all. Most of the legal challenges failed, but meters were removed in several cities, and hours of enforcement were shortened in others. As parking meters proved their compatibility with downtown traffic and their success at increasing revenue, meters became an accepted way to regulate curb parking and fund traffic-related improvements as well as general municipal expenses.

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