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Friday Flashback: Parking Meter Perspective

By Karl Klockars in Miscellaneous on Mar 27, 2009 7:00PM

parkingmeter032709.jpg Since citydwellers have been collectively exercising their civic rebellion muscles this week* in terms of the ongoing parking meter revolt, we at the Flashback desk figured it could be illuminating to go back and see where this whole thing started. Not just with the sale of the city's parking meters to LAZ, no sir - we're setting the Wayback Machine for 1936, when the argument was raging about whether or not to install the things in the first place.

From a story by Hal Foust from Chicago Daily Tribune, May 23, 1936:

Chicago officials…are considering the installation of parking meters, it was learned yesterday. Leslie Sorenson, traffic engineer for the city, has been questioned by individual aldermen on the advantages of the meters in regulating parking in congested neighborhood business districts.

In Dallas last Feburary the Tribune automobile editor interview police, traffic engineers, and businessmen’s associations. They liked their parking meters. They said the system reduced congestion by eliminating cruising for an empty curb space, brought more customers into the retail center because all curb space would not be taken by all-day parkers, and enabled one team of motorcycles to police one hour parking in the entire downtown area of this city.

In a stunning demonstration of premonition and forethought, J.J. Cavanaugh, then-president of the Chicago Motor Club, declared that "the plan will develop into a political grab-bag with the motorists holding the bag." This was just the beginning of the process. After much discussion, argument and study, meters didn't actually get installed until 1951. How much did the original use of one of the meters cost? Just one nickel per hour, or a penny per 12 minutes. Thems were the days.

Zone 6 from p2wy.

*Is anyone else reminded of what got Paul Newman's character arrested in Cool Hand Luke? Just sayin'.