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Chicken-Fried News: Time expired



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  • Fried chicken drumstick in isolated white background

If knocking down our historic buildings wasn’t proof enough that Oklahoma City has no love for its past, this ought to do the trick: The city is getting rid of its coin-operated curbside parking meters.

“But that’s good news!” say the majority of people who don’t travel around with $3 in quarters on their person at all times.

From a convenience standpoint, it makes perfect sense, right? It sure does. But what about the legacy of Mr. Carlton Cole Magee?

Yes, OKC was home to the inventor of the coin-operated parking meter. Though he was originally from Iowa, Magee was a member of the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce’s traffic committee when, on May 13, 1935, he filed a patent for “a meter for measuring the time of occupancy or use of parking or other space for the use of which it is desirous an incidental charge be made upon a time basis.” Huzzah! Three years later, he was awarded U.S. Patent No. 2118318. Super huzzah!

His goal was to keep parking spaces open for shoppers in downtown. So if you’ve ever gotten a ticket for not plopping enough quarters in the meter, you can thank good ol’ Carl.

But after 83 years, time has run out for the old-school meters. Not that metered time is a thing of the past, though. (Meh.) The Oklahoma City Public Transportation & Parking Department plans to replace almost 600 of the Magee-style meters in the next fiscal year with some sort of newfangled electronic car-tag tracking system. It will allow drivers to move their cars within the area with a single payment and could eventually become a smartphone-controlled app.

Fun fact: Magee beat a manslaughter rap in New Mexico after he shot at a judge who knocked him down in a hotel lobby. Magee missed, inadvertently killing a bystander. So if it weren’t for his poor aim, OKC might not have become the beloved birthplace of the coin-operated parking meter.

The coin-operated parking meter is dead, long live electronic car-tag tracking.

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