Downtown Parking

Date in History: 1940s

The Retail Committee of the Fort Atkinson Chamber of Commerce met with the city manager to discuss the parking problem downtown. That sounds timely doesn’t it, but actually that meeting took place in June of 1940. The chamber was concerned that employees were using the choice parking stalls and parking there all day. The city manger promised to enforce a two-hour limit by issuing warnings and actually arresting violators!

The two-hour limit was again invoked in 1948 when Officer Ben Beebe was assigned to monitor parking and issue $1 tickets, but still no one was satisfied. Finally in 1951 the city installed 254 parking meters on the downtown streets. The nickel per hour rate brought in $20,000 to the city that first year, and metered parking stayed in effect until 1979. It was removed because merchants complained that the meters were discouraging shoppers from coming downtown.

This historic document aired on the radio as an Historic Minute on 06/28/2004.

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