75 years later, drivers still frustrated by parking meters

Marketplace Staff Jul 16, 2010

75 years later, drivers still frustrated by parking meters

Marketplace Staff Jul 16, 2010


Bill Radke: That would be a quarter going into a parking meter. The first time anyone heard that was 75 years ago today in Oklahoma City. Andrea Bernstein reports from WNYC in New York, that not everyone finds this a reason to celebrate.

Andrea Bernstein: Mike Krumholz knows how he wants to party. He’d figure out the number of parking meters in the city.

Mike Krumholz: I would say we get that number same amount of sticks of dynamite and blow them off simultaneously.

Out on the street in Brooklyn, Anthony Limandri doesn’t much like meters either.

Anthony Limandri: Sick and tired of paying ’em. Every hour you have to come back and put more quarters.

The idea for parking meters began in depression-era Oklahoma City. Jeff Brieley of the Oklahoma History Center says by 1930, the number of cars in the state had ballooned to 550,000.

Jeff Brieley: Parking spaces in downtown would fill up and it was a problem finding a parking spot.

Brieley says a businessman named Carl McGee noticed spots weren’t occupied by shoppers, but by shopkeepers.

Brieley: They would just leave their car in the spot near their store all day long.

So McGee designed a parking meter. Store owners left the metered spots to their customers. Even though it was the Depression, mostly the new system was popular with patrons.

Brieley: For a change, they would then have parking spot.

Well, not everyone loved it. At the beginning, Brieley says, some people stopped by to complain.

Brieley: Why should I pay a nickel for what I ought to be able to do free and have done free ever day up until now?

People were of two minds then as now. Back on the streets of Brooklyn, speech therapist Debbie Shiwbalek was pulling into a spot.

Debbie Shiwbalek: I know its good for business, people coming in and out don’t what people to park all day. But at the same time, why do I have to pay 25 cents for five minutes to run into a bank?

And then if you don’t make it back in time, there’s always the traffic agent printing out a ticket and tucking it under windshield wiper. Happy Birthday, parking meter.

In New York, I’m Andrea Bernstein for Marketplace.

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