Parking Meters

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Parking your car can be expensive. If you don’t want to pay, the fine goes to the city, if you pay willingly, the parking industry gets its share. A huge share. Each year the global parking industry is generating $ 100 billion! And it all started when cars were new and only available for the upper class. The early parking meters didn’t just require money, they also wanted you to hook up your cars battery to them, to keep them running. At least that was the model patented by Roger W. Babson in 1928. Luckily this completely exploitative version never went into production. Seven years later, on July 16th 1935, Oklahoma City installed a modified version of the parking meter. It worked with a purely mechanical set-up made out of a coin acceptor, a dial and a visible pointer, which indicated when the time was up. The basic design remained unchanged for over 40 years.

New York City employed the first parking enforcement officers in 1960. Remarkably, all the employees were female, which gave the profession the term “meter maid”. It wasn’t until 1967 that men started to get hired for the job of checking meters and distributing fines. It is a tough job. Parking enforcement officers are targets for abuse and verbal violence. In every country. Quite often the violence turns physical, so some meter maids turned to wearing stab-resistant vests.

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