The U

Tuesday 20th November 1923

The U.S. Patent Office granted Patent No. 1,475,074 to 46-year-old inventor and newspaperman Garrett Morgan for his three-position traffic signal. Though Morgan’s was not the first traffic signal (that one had been installed in London in 1868), it was an important innovation nonetheless: By having a third position besides just “Stop” and “Go,” it regulated crossing vehicles more safely than earlier signals had. He got this idea from witnessing a terrible accident. He thought a signal with a ‘warning’ light may help at intersections. This warning light is the ancestor of today’s yellow light. He eventually sold his traffic signal to GE for $40,000. Morgan is also credited as the first African American in Cleveland to own an automobile.

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