Zach Pollock Extra Credit- Victorian Traffic Lights.

Traffic lights… we hate them with all our heart. They make us have to bring our car to a halt and force us to wait about two minutes so it can turn green again before we can carry on with our journey. Sure they prevent car accidents, but they’re just oh so inconvenient.

One may believe that the traffic light was invented after World War II when car culture in America was heating up.  But you’re wrong, very wrong. The traffic light wasn’t even invented in the twentieth century, it first appeared during the (record scratch) Victorian Age? No no, that doesn’t seem right, are you serious? So who might you ask, invented these wonderful (yet annoying) devices?

Me during every commute


Well my fellow curious researcher, traffic lights were invented by J.P. Knight who installed the first one outside the House of Parliament in 1868.,5753,-1460,00.html . Meanwhile the American Civil War (or War of Northern Aggression to some) ended just three years prior!

Truth be told, while browsing through the Victorian Dictionary, I was quite shocked when I saw this under transport.  I knew that traffic lights existed before the Great Depression, but not this far back. But hey, you learn something new everyday.

It was described as;

a column 20 feet high, with a spacious gas lamp near the top, the design of which is the application of the semaphore signal to the public streets at points where foot passengers have hitherto depended for their protection on the arm and gesticulations of a policeman – often a very inadequate defence against accident.

Thou shall not pass

So even the blokes over a hundred years ago knew that vehicle accidents must be prevented and they were able to invent such a device that today, prevents numerous car accidents, even though they’re such an annoyance.  You do have to give them credit for this though.


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