Monday, February 22, 2021

Inventing Modern Transportation, Black History Month Series: Garrett Morgan

Imagine making a left turn on a busy city street without the benefit of a traffic signal, an experience that may induce feelings of anxiety, frustration, and even fear. For Garrett Morgan, the growing need for traffic control in the early 20th century inspired his most well-known invention. With automobiles, horse-drawn carriages, bicycles, and pedestrians all sharing the same roads, traffic accidents were a growing and deadly problem, and traffic signals lacked standardization. Morgan developed a traffic control device with a third “warning” position, and received patent number 1,475,024 in 1923. He subsequently sold the rights for his patent to General Electric.
Born in Kentucky at the end of the Reconstruction era, Morgan had little formal education but an innate curiosity about how things worked. In addition to the traffic signal, he experimented with inventions in several different fields, including hair care products and a precursor to the gas mask. Morgan was also a community leader and an advocate for racial equality in his adopted city of Cleveland, an active member of the NAACP, and the founder of the “Cleveland Call,” a weekly newspaper. #BlackHistoryMonth #InventingModernAmerica
Learn more about Garrett Morgan:
U.S. Patent no. 1,090,936
Title: Breathing Device
Patented: March 24, 1914
U.S. Patent no. 1,475,024
Title: Traffic Signal
Patented: November 20, 1923