The 13 Year Gap – The History Of The Garage
Did you ever ponder the age-old question: “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” You did? Well, what about this one: “Which came first, the motor car or the garage?” Easier question, huh? But there’s some facts to go through before I confirm the obvious answer. So pay attention, we’ll need to go back to Henry Ford’s day to start telling this tale.
Time was that the only way to travel involved one or more horses and a carriage. Unfortunately the invention of Ford’s Model-T automobile put the skids under the horse and buggy industry — big style. Anyone with horse and buggy stocks and shares had thrown themselves off a high building years before the Wall Street crash.
Despite the outbreak of automobile fever this invention brought about, forward-thinking drivers who yearned for an outbuilding in which to house their new toys would have to wait 13 years before their wish came true
The horse and carriage — the previous hot fashion accessory, status symbol and whizzo mode of transport — were usually housed in the same barn. Which sort of made sense. However the rich, who were the only class that could afford a Ford, didn’t much fancy their shiny new contraptions smelling of horse poop! So a market opened up for dedicated outbuildings to keep the iron chariots of the well-to-do out of the rain and away from horses altogether.
The earliest garages were barn-like. No surprise there. With barn-style doors that opened outwards. Drivers — lazy as always — had to get out of their cars to open them and for this reason, didn’t like them. There had to be something better. Something easier. And there was!
Early garages were basically single level parking lots, some in public ownership, some privately-owned, charging $5 a week for a space along side another bunch of cars, in a garage maintained on the owner’s dime. This worked out great until, around the end of the first decade of the 20th century demand overwhelmed supply and there were far too many cars for existing garages to cope with. Dedicated garages adjacent to home became the norm.
Drivers had to wait until after the First World War before they could open a garage door remotely (via a key pad located on a post at the end of their driveway). I don’t mean they waited at the foot of their drive for the duration of the war. It’s just that you couldn’t get one until then. Was it worth the wait? Who knows.
However, electric garage door openers, invented by C.G Johnson did not become popular until the Era Meter Company of Chicago marketed
the sectional overhead door in 1921. Its popularity led to Johnson’s Overhead Door Company adding an electric garage door opener to their 1926 catalogue. After which, drivers who once had to man-handle heavy wooden doors before parking their cars under cover could now return to being lazy, forever.