Parking meters have been an emblem of New York City street life since 1951, when the first meters were introduced to ease congestion and provide revenue. In 2006, the last mechanical parking meter was withdrawn from service as the city completed its conversion to battery-powered digital meters, which are more accurate, reliable, and vandal resistant than the older spring-loaded devices. On December 20, 2006, the last mechanical meter was retired from its spot on the southwest corner of West 10th Street and Surf Avenue in Coney Island, Brooklyn. Iris Weinshall, then the city's transportation commissioner, remarked to a New York Times reporter that the manual meter had gone the way of the subway token and noted, "This type of meter will go into museums, just like other memorabilia of the city."
In the late 1980s, the city boasted 69,000 mechanical meters on its streets, but it stopped purchasing them about 10 years ago. In 1995, the city first began using digital meters, and the following year they introduced multispace meters, called Muni-Meters, that accept prepaid parking cards. This example is a one-hour meter that accept only quarters: one quarter buys 30 minutes of parking.
Gift of New York City Department of Transportation
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New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
at Richard Gilder Way (77th Street)
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