Friday, November 27th. The first traffic signal with indicators for stop, go and caution was patented this month in 1923. The green light went to African-American inventor Garrett Morgan, who decided to do something after witnessing a collision between a car and a horse-drawn wagon on a Cleveland street. At the time, there were already more than 15 million motor vehicles on the nation’s roads. Morgan’s three-position signal was manually operated by a traffic officer during peak hours. This invention, with its staffing and mechanical requirements, was soon overtaken by the now-familiar system of green, yellow and red lights. Today’s traffic signals regulate the movements of the approximately 256 million motor vehicles in the U.S. You can find more facts about America’s people, places and economy, from the American Community Survey, at <www.census.gov>.
Saturday, November 28th. One of the comforts most Americans take for granted while driving was displayed for the first time this month in 1939 at the 40th Chicago Auto Show. The Packard Motor Car Company unveiled the first U.S. car with air-conditioning. The cooling and heating equipment in the Packard was located behind the rear seat in the trunk. Treated air reached the passenger compartment through ducts mounted between the seats and the rear window. Air-conditioning did not become a widely available, affordable option until well after World War II. Starting in 1969, the majority of new cars and trucks made in the U.S. have been equipped with air-conditioning. While Packard is long gone, the remaining manufacturers produce almost $109 billion worth of automobiles annually You can find more facts about America’s people, places and economy, from the American Community Survey, at <www.census.gov>.
Sunday, November 29th. Given what seems to be the ever-growing profusion of coffee vendors, imagine what a crisis it would be if coffee were suddenly rationed. That’s exactly what happened on this date in 1942 because the Second World War had interrupted shipments and people were hoarding coffee. But rationing lasted only until the next summer. It’s thought that coffee was introduced into America in the mid-1600s by the Dutch colonists in New Amsterdam, renamed New York in 1664 under new management. Its popularity jumped after both the Boston Tea Party and the beginning of Prohibition. For those who don’t make their own coffee, there are over 19,000 coffee shops across the country, and they sell more than $10 billion worth of coffee a year. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau online at <www.census.gov>.