By Michael Ossenkopp December 7, 2018 – 1:49 pm The first traffic light in the world shone in London. It was installed in front of Parliament 150 years ago. Since then many things have changed.
The first traffic light in Germany: The historic street scene from the 1930s shows the traffic light tower with a cab on Potsdamer Platz. There sat a policeman and controlled the signal by hand.
London – In the middle of the 19th century, traffic regulation in the metropolis of the British Empire is overdue. Every day, up to 750,000 people commute to the center, horse-drawn buses, cabs and wagons clog the streets of London, the establishment of one-way streets hardly remedy. Although the construction of the subway began in 1860, the few stations do not provide any relief.
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Severe accidents are the order of the day; in 1866 alone, the London City administration records 102 deaths – and at walking pace. A particularly dangerous intersection is located just below the Big Ben belltower in the government district, behind Westminster Bridge. Two parliamentarians have already been seriously injured and a policeman killed. MEPs deal with the issue, but they too can not find a patent solution.
The choice of color with green and red orients itself to the shipping Since the London police chief, a certain John Peake Knight. The chief of the South Eastern Railway Company is an engineer and recommends that railway signals be transmitted to road traffic. At particularly dangerous junctions, highly visible signs could be placed in the form of so-called semaphores, which are actually signal towers for message transmission.
Their color choice with green and red was based on the shipping, where they mark port and starboard. Since the 1840s, the railway used green for "free ride" and red for "stop". The term "traffic light" for these wing signals established itself later. A revolving gas lantern with red and green light filters To prepare the inhabitants of London for the innovation, the chief of police has 10,000 leaflets distributed: "Police notice! At the Caution signal, all persons driving vehicles or horses are cautioned to cross the intersection carefully. The signal "Stop" will only appear when it is needed. "The journalist The Engineer wrote then:" The pillar is 6.50 meters high, octagonal bottom and top and weighs five tons. The upper part is spirally wound, the sides are gothic decorated. Above it is a light box. "The rotating gas lantern with red and green light filters is used for nighttime operation. During the day two large mechanical arms give the signs – like an oversized sergeant: If they are lowered, vehicles are allowed to enter the intersection, they are stretched out, that means stopping. This device is operated by a policeman who is at the foot of the traffic light. Three weeks after commissioning, a serious accident happens The satire magazine "Punch" remains skeptical and compares the plant with a "frightful appearance", transfigured by the London fog: "Apparently, the apparatus still has major shortcomings. Many drivers do not know what the arm positions mean. Therefore, they are sometimes ignored, often just does not work the technology. "Already three weeks after commissioning it comes on January 2, 1869 to a momentous accident. A broken gas pipe explodes, while the on-duty Bobby suffers severe facial injuries through a jet of flame. The first traffic light is switched off immediately and never put into operation again. For more than half a century, the British refrain from further attempts to regulate the chaotic traffic with signal systems. It was not until 1926 that the Londoners set a new traffic light on the corner of Piccadilly and St James's Street. Only in 1923 did the traffic light in the USA make its breakthrough. Due to the worldwide increase in automobile traffic, since the beginning of the 20th century, fluid traffic has skyrocketed – especially in the USA. To "signal", was built on August 5, 1914 in Cleveland (Ohio), the first electrically operated traffic lights. She also showed only the colors green and red and signaled pedestrians and drivers alternately "Stop" and "Move". There was no yellow yet, so a bell announced the color change – a concept soon overtaken by noisy traffic. The light sequence had to be controlled by a servant of the city. Only in 1923 was the traffic light design by Garrett Morgen also commercially successful. The advantage of its design was mainly in the mechanics, which could be remotely controlled electrically over longer distances. He sold the invention for $ 40,000 to the electricity company General Electric Company, which then produced millions of traffic lights. Morgan was later awarded a road safety award by the US government. The excitement about the novelty in the street scene was limited In the 1920s, traffic lights in Europe also prevailed. The Potsdamer Platz in Berlin at the time was the busiest hub on the continent with more than 200 trams per hour – plus hundreds of buses and automobiles. Here on 22 October 1924 the famous pentagonal traffic light tower started its operation. The enthusiasm of the captains over the novelty in the streetscape was still limited. The "Lokal-Anzeiger" described traffic lights as a "civic stroke", the "Tageblatt" even wanted to "abolish it" as quickly as possible. Customers of taxis and horse-drawn cabs feared that forced stops would increase their travel expenses. Nevertheless, in the 1920s, traffic lights were used to control road traffic in Germany and throughout Europe. The first German pedestrian traffic light celebrated its premiere in Berlin in 1937. Today, a replica is reminiscent of the capital's first "lighthouse". Ten policemen were saved by the traffic light, which regulated five merging roads at once. In Berlin in 1937, the first German pedestrian traffic lights premiere, which worked manually by a single circuit. In 1952, the city of New York set up a first automatically controlled overpass for passers-by worldwide, with the words "Walk" and "Do not Walk" changing "as if by magic". In the GDR, the traffic psychologist Karl Peglau invented the traffic light man in 1961. At the location of the first traffic light in London, a green sticker on a house in the City of Westminster commemorates the world's first traffic light. By the way: On average, motorists and pedestrians spend 14 days of their lives in front of red traffic lights.
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