Black History Month: Garrett Morgan

Garrett Morgan was an African American inventor and community leader, born on March 4th, 1877. Morgan is most notable for several of his invention including the gas mask, hair straightening preparation and most importantly the first traffic signal. A growing number of automobile drivers within the African American community grew tremendously during the turn of the 20th century. With this was a growing problem of traffic accidents as a number of traffic signal devices began to develop starting around 1913.

Garrett-Morgan-In 1922 Morgan invented a traffic control device and applied for a patent on it. His inevtion was a hand-cranked mechanical sign system using signs that could be switched relatively easy by a traffic control officer. His device also hosted a "stop" and "go" indicator, "all stop" to clear intersections for pedestrian crossing, a "half mast" warning position to signal "caution" when the device operator was not present. In addition to the signs, his device featured lights and warning bells powered by a main power source. Today we pay tribute to Garrett Morgan for his contribution to our first traffic system.