The History of Parking Meter

Ever since there have been vehicles, there have been people looking to make money from parking them. The parking meter is a device that has changed a lot since its introduction, technological advances have seen them be more usable and prevalent. Their main purpose has not changed much over the years, they still take your money and give you the right to park your car in a certain spot, for a certain amount of time.

The Original Parking Meter

The first parking meters where mechanical devices, and they were introduced in the 1930’s. They accepted quarters only, and the coin would start a clock ticking. When the clock ran down to zero, you were out of time on the parking spot. During that time period, parking attendants would walk around inspecting the meters, and they would hand write tickets for vehicles parked for too long. The attendants would also wind the meters, as their clock mechanisms required winding every several days.

Meter Maids

In the 1960’s New York City started the practice of having meter maids. This was a group of women who took on the role of the parking attendants. It was a way to provide jobs to women who previously were house-wives. It fit well with New York’s progressive attitude, although eventually men did join the ranks; however, this was not until about 10 years later.


Parking meters started becoming digitalized in the late 1980’s. This was in an effort to make more payment options available, and to reduce the maintenance that the meters required. These digital meters have continued to improve. Now many municipalities use an outdoor information kiosk to indicate parking regulations, as well as take payment, and track vehicles’ locations. These new kiosks and the new license plate reorganization software make ensuring correct use of parking spaces almost completely automated.

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