Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Golden Age of Free Parking in Ypsilanti

Hey, peeps, didja know there was a time in Ypsi history when you didn't have to pay a dime for parking? It's true--and it's covered in my "From the Archives" column in today's Courier, which I hope you picked up/have a sub to like me. In case ya missed it, here's the text! Enjoy!

Ypsilanti’s Golden Age of Free Parking: 1900-1942


From around the turn of the century, when a few cars began appearing on Ypsilanti streets (most of them unpaved), to WWII, when the streets faced an influx of Bomber Plant workers’ cars, parking in the city was free.

It just hadn’t occurred to anyone to charge for it.

During WWII, the Ypsilanti Salvage Committee held huge scrap metal and rubber drives. Housewives were even told to save pan drippings from roasted meats, for “scrap fat” used to make glycerine for the war effort. The entire city was economizing and doing without. Perhaps it was this atmosphere of frugal austerity that led the city to seek more sources of revenue.

“Ypsilanti’s 300 parking meters are today being installed and will go into effect at 9 a.m. Thursday,” announced the July 8, 1942 Ypsilanti Daily Press.
“Instructions for their use are found on the meters themselves. Cars may park for 12 minutes for one cent, 24 minutes for two cents, 36 minutes for 3 cents and 60 minutes for a nickel.” The metered time was 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every weekday and 9 to 9 on Saturdays.

The paper went into detail about the workings of the mysterious meters. “The meters are automatic; only the insertion of a coin or coins being necessary to start meter operating. Deposit of the coin brings into view a clock face with hand ticking off the minutes. At the end of the allotted time the clock face and indicator drop from sight and patrolling officers can see that the car is illegally parked. . . Meters in Ypsilanti have been installed for a six months trial period. If found unsatisfactory at that time, they will be removed.”

In addition to the instructions printed on the meter and the newspaper’s explanation, “[b]ooklets explaining the use of meters are now being distributed at various business places about the city where motorists may secure them.”

The next day, the Press reported “[s]trange and interesting were the reactions of motorists this morning as they surveyed the city’s new parking meters.”
“Some walked slowly toward the meters, viewing them skeptically. Others tried not to look as foolish and inexperienced as they felt while reading instructions on the meter. The “old hands” walked with a confident stride, and in businesslike fashion inserted their coins and were on their way. And many were still either coldly surveying the machines and refusing ‘to play’ or else dashed off without so much as a look in the direction of the meters.”

Adoption of the meters was not immediate. “A check within the first hour that meters were in effect showed 21 violations out of 50 cars. Violations were by no means confined to side streets either, for a considerable number were counted on Michigan Ave. Even the nearness to the police station didn’t frighten some, for there was little legal-sounding ticking in meters in the same block as police headquarters.”
The city was abuzz with debate about the new machine, which “furnished a new topic for conversation. . . motorists were seen and heard discussing the relative merits of the new devices.”

A week and a half later, Chief of Police Dan Patch informed City Council that the meters were expected to bring in between $1,200 and $1,500 in July. Officer Perry Burrell was given the meter coin-collection beat, and soon gained meter savvy. The July 21 Press said, “[Burrell says] use old nickels in preference to new five cent pieces, as the old ones work better in the meters.”

Police Chief Dan Patch’s prediction was correct. By August, the meters had collected $1,648.78 in revenue. After deducting the cost of installation and Officer Burrell’s $180 per month salary, the meters netted the city $412.60 ($5,400 in today’s dollars).
Faced with this profit, city officials’ talk about removing the meters after 6 months vanished—and Ypsilantians have been digging into their pockets for coins ever since.

15 comments :

Dusty D said...

Incidentally, I contacted one helpful City Council member to check on how many parking meters exist in the city today.

He said there are 214 in the DDA district, and that that was probably the sum total for the city.

So we have 1/3 fewer than around WWII.

Just in case you were wondering how many parking meters we have. Don't want any readers to have any sleepless nights!

Edward Vielmetti said...

The "old nickels" would be the Buffalo nickels, which were minted until 1937; beginning in 1938, the design changed to the Jefferson nickel that are in current circulation.

This reference on the Buffalo nickel says in part:

"Reservations also came from the vending machine industry, whose devices were designed primarily for accepting cents and nickels. Particularly persistent was the Hobbs Manufacturing Company, which marketed a machine for detecting counterfeit coins. Mr. Hobbs was certain that Fraser's design would not work in his mechanism, and he asked that significant changes be made to the models. After much wrangling over this, Secretary MacVeagh instructed the Mint to proceed with the original design and let the vending machine companies adapt their mechanisms to the coin."

Of the Jefferson Nickel, the same source notes:

"The novelty of the Jefferson Nickel caused most examples to be saved by a curious public during its first few years, and coins of this type did not become a familiar sight in circulation until about 1940. Shortly thereafter, the onset of World War II prompted the rationing of many commodities, certain metals among them. Nickel was highly valued for use in armor plating, and Congress ordered the removal of this metal from the five-cent piece, effective October 8, 1942. From that date, and lasting through the end of 1945, five-cent pieces bore the regular design but were minted from an alloy of copper, silver and manganese. It was anticipated that these emergency coins would be withdrawn from circulation after the war, so a prominent distinguishing feature was added. Coins from all three mints bore very large mintmarks above the dome of Monticello, and the letter 'P' was used as a mintmark for the first time on a U. S. coin. These "war nickels" proved quite satisfactory in circulation, and they were not immediately withdrawn. Instead, they remained a familiar sight until the mid-1960s, when rising silver prices caused them to be hoarded for their bullion value."

So, was the recommendation to use the "old" Buffalo nickels, to not use the "war nickels"? Did the war nickels not work in the new machines? All quite curious in a numismatic history kind of way.

Maproom Systems said...

These events coincide with Dan Patch authoring 'Moon Over Willow Run,' which stands out as being the most terrible book i have ever read in my entire life.

Dusty D said...

Maproom: Thank you for visiting the blog! I miss you, and the city is less for your departure. I'm sure you heard about the Thompson Bldg. fire--I never guessed a building's destruction could hit me so hard. Still feel gut-punched. Fire investigation is going on for the next 2 weeks or so and I hope they find out what happened.

At any rate, ooh, I have to read that book! Thanks for the tip! I'll see if EMU has it!

Dusty D said...

Dear Ed: Wow, thank you for digging up this fascinating info! I'm starting to count on you for finding this great stuff! :)

Hmm, the parking meters went in in July of '42...according to your info, the "war nickels" didn't come out till October, so I'm *guessing* the "new" coins in question were the Jefferson nickels.

Thanks again, Ed!

Wystan said...

The dust jacket of Dan Patch's book shows a romantic couple embracing on a hillside while they watch new-assembled airplanes, sihouetted by moonlight, as they roar into the sky from the runway of the Ford Bomber plant. How many hills do you know of near the Willow Run airport?

Unfortunately "Moon Over Willow Run" was not the only load of tripe purveyed by Mr. Patch, a very religious man who wrote moralistic, religious novels for the edification of American youth.

(In "Moon," even as they watch the bombers, the hero and heroine are planning their future life together, as missionaries in a faraway, exotic land.)

How can anyone take seriously a police chief -- or an author -- who is named after a famous race horse?

Maproom Systems said...

Wystan-

another aspect of the book that you didn't mention, and which honestly did make me question Chief Patch's actual service record, was his "mastery" of "negro" "dialects."

Laura-

Thompson Bldg?
Fire?

No, I haven't heard anything about it.

But if memory serves me correctly, that was one of the only buildings in depot town with a permanent fire sprinkler system, so i can't imagine that the damage would have been too severe.

.

Dusty D said...

Wystan: Thanks to your comments, this book has now shot to the #1 spot on my reading list. Must go to Halle tomorrow and check it out if they have it. Sounds priceless.

As far as taking seriously a police officer named after a race horse...well, I was named after a character in a movie.

But a GOOD movie! Dr. Zhivago! :D

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

[b]VIAGRA erection PREISVERGLECH VIAGRA[/b]
http://www.getsomeskillz.co.uk/forum/member.php?u=13
[b]VIAGRA on line BILLIG VIAGRA[/b]
VIAGRA BESTELLEN eur 0.85 Pro Pille >> Klicken Sie Hier << BESTELLEN BILLIG VIAGRA CIALIS VIAGRA online kaufen Kaufen Viagra in Deutschland
http://cafesuoimo.com/member.php?u=8
[b]VIAGRA Rezeptfrei BILLIG VIAGRA REZEPTFREI BESTELLEN[/b]
[url=http://www.barroco.comyr.com/member.php?u=3]BILLIG[/url] - VIAGRA
[b]VIAGRA Apotheke BILLIG VIAGRA REZEPTFREI BESTELLEN[/b]
[b]VIAGRA ohne rezept VIAGRA PREISVERGLECH REZEPTFREI[/b]
[url=http://www.noise-unltd.com/member.php?u=2 ]VIAGRA potenzhilfe[/url] - VIAGRA online kaufen
[b]VIAGRA information BESTELLEN PREISVERGLECH VIAGRA[/b]
[b]VIAGRA Nederland VIAGRA REZEPTFREI BILLIG[/b]

Anonymous said...

[b]VIAGRA alternativ BESTELLEN VIAGRA[/b]
http://www.doggingforum.org/members/newviagra.html
[b]VIAGRA Apotheke PREISVERGLECH VIAGRA REZEPTFREI[/b]
VIAGRA BESTELLEN eur 0.85 Pro Pille >> Klicken Sie Hier << BESTELLEN BILLIG VIAGRA CIALIS FREE VIAGRA KAUF BILLIG VIAGRA
http://www.claninabox.net/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=498
[b]VIAGRA prices REZEPTFREI VIAGRA[/b]
[url=http://www.postyouradforfree.com/showthread.php?p=313013]VIAGRA Kaufen[/url] - VIAGRA information
[b]VIAGRA online BESTELLEN BESTELLEN VIAGRA[/b]
[b]VIAGRA potenzhilfe BESTELLEN VIAGRA[/b]
[url=http://www.pilotmagazin.ro/forum_nou/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=6847]BILLIG VIAGRA PREISVERGLECH BESTELLEN[/url] - VIAGRA Kaufen
[b]VIAGRA® kaufen VIAGRA BILLIG PREISVERGLECH BESTELLEN[/b]
[b]VIAGRA online kaufen VIAGRA BILLIG BESTELLEN[/b]

Anonymous said...

http://www.djmal.net/thaspot/members/viagrakaufend
[b]VIAGRA fuer frau VIAGRA BILLIG PREISVERGLECH[/b]
http://www.serataanime.it/forum2/member.php?u=336
[b]VIAGRA Rezeptfrei VIAGRA BILLIG REZEPTFREI BESTELLEN[/b]
VIAGRA BESTELLEN eur 0.85 Pro Pille >> Klicken Sie Hier << BESTELLEN BILLIG VIAGRA CIALIS alternativ zu VIAGRA VIAGRA KAUF
http://www.stupidhomework.com/homework/members/viagrakaufend-8505.html
[b]VIAGRA versand BESTELLEN VIAGRA[/b]
[url=http://www.einvestorhelp.com/member.php?u=37776]FREE VIAGRA[/url] - VIAGRA Apotheke
[b]VIAGRA online kaufen VIAGRA[/b]
[b]VIAGRA preis VIAGRA BILLIG BESTELLEN[/b]
[url=http://www.zonatuning.com/members/viagrakaufend]BILLIG BESTELLEN VIAGRA[/url] - VIAGRA on line
[b]VIAGRA preis VIAGRA BESTELLEN[/b]
[b]VIAGRA Germany BILLIG VIAGRA[/b]
[b]VIAGRA® kaufen
VIAGRA Deutschland
VIAGRA online kaufen
VIAGRA on line
VIAGRA alternativ
VIAGRA rezeptfrei
VIAGRA Kaufen
VIAGRA Apotheke[/b]

Anonymous said...

http://www.djmal.net/thaspot/members/viagrakaufend
[b]VIAGRA on line VIAGRA PREISVERGLECH REZEPTFREI[/b]
http://www.serataanime.it/forum2/member.php?u=336
[b]VIAGRA preis VIAGRA BILLIG[/b]
VIAGRA BESTELLEN eur 0.85 Pro Pille >> Klicken Sie Hier << BESTELLEN BILLIG VIAGRA CIALIS VIAGRA® kaufen REZEPTFREI KAUFEN VIAGRA
http://www.barroco.comyr.com/member.php?u=3
[b]VIAGRA Holland VIAGRA PREISVERGLECH BESTELLEN[/b]
[url=http://www.einvestorhelp.com/member.php?u=37776]BILLIG BESTELLEN VIAGRA[/url] - VIAGRA BESTELLEN
[b]VIAGRA prices VIAGRA BILLIG BESTELLEN[/b]
[b]VIAGRA potenzhilfe BILLIG VIAGRA[/b]
[url=http://www.zonatuning.com/members/viagrakaufend]VIAGRA PREISVERGLECH REZEP - erection VIAGRA
TFREI[/url] - VIAGRA ohne rezept
[b]VIAGRA on line VIAGRA PREISVERGLECH BILLIG[/b]
[b]VIAGRA alternatives VIAGRA[/b]
[b]VIAGRA® kaufen
VIAGRA Deutschland
VIAGRA online kaufen
VIAGRA on line
VIAGRA alternativ
VIAGRA rezeptfrei
VIAGRA Kaufen
VIAGRA Apotheke[/b]

Anonymous said...

http://www.insubuy.com/forum/member.php?u=125026
[b]CIALIS KAUFEN EUR 1.10 pro pille >>> Jetzt Kaufen! <<< CIALIS ONLINE KAUFEN CIALIS information[/b]
[b]CIALIS KAUFEN CIALIS BILLIG KAUFEN OHNE REZEPT CIALIS Nederland[/b]
http://www.ewheatgrass.com/wheatgrassjuice/members/cialiskaufen.html
Tadalafil, angeboten unter dem Namen Cialis, ist eine neue Gruppe von Medikationen, welche adaquate sexuelle Stimulation erlaubt, die Blutgefa?e des Penis entspannt und der Erektion hilft. Die empfohlene Dosis von Tadalafil betragt 20mg.
Cialis ist das einzige Medikament, welches nicht nur schnell wirkt (wirkt in 30 Minuten) sondern auch bis zu 36 Stunden effektiv bleibt, das Ihnen ermoglicht den richtigen Moment fur Sie und ihren Partner zu wahlen. Sie konnen Cialis am Morgen einnehmen und Sie sind bereit fur den richtigen Moment wahrend des Tages, Abends oder auch wahrend des nachsten Tages. Millionen Manner wurden von der effektiven Wirkung in Milde und von der gema?igten oder harten erektile Dysfunktion von Cialis uberzeugt.
[url=http://www.moddedmustangs.com/forums/members/cialiskaufen.html]CIALIS ONLINE KAUFEN[/url] - CIALIS REZEPTFREI KAUF
[b]CIALIS KAUFEN CIALIS KAUF OHNE REZEPT CIALIS Apotheke[/b]
[url=http://www.uhaveaudio.com/forums/member.php?u=185]CIALIS Online Kaufen[/url] - CIALIS OHNE REZEPT
[b]CIALIS KAUFEN CIALIS Online Kaufen CIALIS Oesterreich[/b]
[url=http://www.forexindo.com/forum/members/cialiskaufen.html]BILLIG CIALIS BESTELLEN[/url] - ONLINE KAUF CIALIS
[b]CIALIS KAUFEN BESTELEN BILLIG CIALIS ONLINE FREE CIALIS[/b]

Anonymous said...

Buy Endress & Hauser models at up to 20% discount from list price

Endress+Hauser is a leading supplier of measuring instruments and automation solutions for the industrial process engineering industry.

Endress+Hauser is recognized as a leading supplier of industrial measurement and automation equipment, providing services and solutions for industrial processes all over the world. Endress+Hauser offer comprehensive process solutions for flow, level, pressure, analysis, temperature, recording and digital communications across a wide range of industries, optimizing processes in regards to economic efficiency, safety and environmental protection.

As major stockists of many Endress and Hauser level instruments, We [url=http://www.endress.org.ua]official distributor Endress+Hauser in Ukraine[/url], can offer a range of Endress & Hauser models at up to 20% discount from list price - prices usually only available when buying in bulk.

Feel free to contact us.