A Brief History of Traffic Lights

On this day in 1914, the world’s first traffic signal was installed in Cleveland Ohio. This neat article from Artsy takes a look into the history of traffic lights.

It was thanks to a generous gift from millionaire physician and New York commissioner of traffic, Dr. John A. Harriss, that the city’s traffic problem finally got a reprieve. His 1920 design for a simple, two-light signal, which consisted of a wooden shed housing light bulbs and supported by a steel base frame, was nothing to look at, but it quickly helped to solve the problem of endless gridlock. By 1922, an elegant neoclassical bronze tower design by Joseph H. Freedlander was unveiled, further cementing the importance of signaling systems in the life of the thriving metropolis. Notably, both of these early systems used green for “Stop” and white or clear for “Go.”

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