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July 16, 1935 – The first paid parking meter is installed

Collecting coins from a parking meter
(21412.M48.42, Z. P. Meyers/Barney Hillerman Photographic Collection, OHS).

On this day in 1935 the first paid parking meter in the USA was installed on a street in Oklahoma City. By the end of the day 175 of them would line OKC streets. Designed by newspaperman Carl Magee for the city which hoped the device would free up public parking. All it did was make people’s pockets heavier. When the meters, known as Park-O-Meters, first went into use, it cost five cents an hour to park. For 25 cents you could head to the drive in theater.

first paid parking meter
Carl Magee
(21412.M48.2, Z. P. Meyers/Barney Hillerman Photographic Collection, OHS).

While most people believed the units to be a simple cash grab by the city, they maintained that it made it easier to park in the city. Despite lawsuits brought on by drivers, the meters remained — and expanded. By the end of the 1940s more than 100,000 parking meters could be found in cities across the country. Today, parking in many major cities costs upwards of $10 per hour. In New York City, you can expect to pay up to $20 per hour for street parking.

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