In today’s modern society, lots of people would never dream of buying or building a house that does not have a garage. Of course, our assorted cars are costly and we want to take the proper care possible of them. Additionally, if you reside in a region of the country where snow and ice are common, then a car garage is one of the most effective ways to protect your car from the elements. But, while garages are common today, there was once a time when they were not.
Like other great inventions, when the automobile was invented, it was something that, in spite of Ford’s wish to have it to be accessible by the ordinary citizen, it was actually bought basically by the rich. Soon enough, in spite of this, these privileged car owners figured out a problem-while their automobile was a good showpiece and convenience. it also required a place to be stored when not being used. For some time, some auto owners tried storing their car in the carriage house. But as this was also where the horses, wagons and other farming equipment were stored, the vehicles often ended up smelling just like the “company they kept”.
In due course, some enterprising businessmen had an idea. Since they were accustomed to keeping livestock housed in rows of stalls, why not build a similar structure that was divided into spaces where automobile owners could store their horseless carriages. These structures resembled our modern day parking garages but were heated and only had one level. Auto owners were charged $15-$20 a month for a parking space. This turned into a lucrative business, for a while, until eventually there were more auto owners than there was space to store the cars.
As the need for parking garages became greater, people once again were looking for ways to protect their investment, as well as keep their vehicle closer to home. So, once again, the carriage shed was revisited. Yet this time, the shed was being redesigned specifically for the auto. The “carriage houses” were renamed and called garages, based on the French word “garer” which means to shelter or protect. The garages had double doors similar to a barn door, but with strap hinge that opened outwards. However, daily use caused a great deal of abrasion on the doors and hinges so it was necessary to do a great deal of maintenance.
Eventually, more versatile and durable doors were designed that worked by sliding along a track across the front of the garage. But this too had its problems. These doors were heavier and wider than the original doors, so inventors continued to experiment. Eventually, a door that was divided into sections was developed so that the doors could actually turn a corner, meaning the doors did not have to be as wide. Then in 1921, C.G. Johnson, invented the overhead garage door which could be lifted upward; just 5 years later he invented an electric, automated garage door opener to make opening the doors even easier. He ultimately went on to finding one America’s leading manufacturers of garage doors- the Overhead Door Corporation.
Since their inception, garages and garage doors have changed many times and so have their functions. But if you are one of the fortunate to have a garage in which to store your vehicles (and other items) then you can thank the hard work of these early days of auto history for this now commonplace home design element.
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