Miller Parking Meter


This Miller parking meter was introduced in the late 1930s, and yo-yo manufacturer Donald F. Duncan soon purchased the Miller meter business. Duncan-Miller meters were manufactured through the mid-1940s. This parking meter is among the earliest ones installed. In the 1920s and early 1930s, inventors filed patent claims for timing devices that regulated parking in curb lanes; some proposals involved collecting a fee. Many cities-beginning with Oklahoma City in 1935-installed coin-operated, spring-driven parking meters beside curb lanes to increase turnover, help enforce violations, reduce traffic congestion resulting from inadequate or haphazard parking spaces, and add much-needed revenue to municipal treasuries. City officials believed that parking meters were necessary to cope with the influx of automobiles into downtown areas and give more motorists access to stores and other businesses. But motorists and merchants challenged the legality of meters, claiming that they annoyed shoppers, deprived merchants and their employees of access to their front doors, and imposed an unfair tax on right-of-ways that were open to all. Most of the legal challenges failed, but meters were removed in several cities, and hours of enforcement were shortened in others. As parking meters proved their compatibility with downtown traffic and their success at increasing revenue, meters became an accepted way to regulate curb parking and fund traffic-related improvements as well as general municipal expenses.

Date Made: 1930s

Associated Place: United States: Oklahoma

See more items in: Work and Industry: Transportation, Road, America on the Move, Transportation

Exhibition: America On The Move

Exhibition Location: National Museum of American History

Credit Line: Gift of Henry R. Stiffel

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2002.0155.01Catalog Number: 2002.0155.01Accession Number: 2002.0155

Object Name: Parking meter

Physical Description: steel (overall material)Measurements: overall: 15 in x 9 in x 8 in; 38.1 cm x 22.86 cm x 20.32 cm


Record Id: nmah_1290920

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.