The country’s first parking meter, known as Park-O-Meter No. 1, is installed on the southeast corner of what was then First Street and Robinson Avenue in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma July 16, 1935.
When Portland installed its first single-space parking meters in 1938, an hour of parking cost a nickel and the meters had to be wound by hand once a week.
Portland was among the first major cities to install meters, beginning with 500 meters installed in the area bounded by SW 4th, Broadway, Salmon and Morrison.
All 500 of the City’s first parking meters were installed the day prior to beginning operation. As described in The Oregonian on March 7, 1938, “Parking meters sprouted like mushrooms after a rain on downtown streets.”
In total, 1400 meters were installed in downtown Portland in 1938 in the area of SW 3rd to 11th Avenue from Salmon to Oak Street.
An article in The Sunday Oregonian from March 1955, said the City had collected over 120,000,000 nickels in the first 17 years of parking meter operation.
By 1955, Portland had had about 4700 meters installed in the city. On an average day, city staff would count and sack half a ton of nickels.
At the height of the meter era, circa-2000, Portland had over 7,000 single-space meters in Downtown and other parts of the city.
In 2002, Portland become one of the first cities in the country to adopt the next generation of parking technology when it began to install paystations. The paystations allow customers to use credit cards or coins to pay for parking at any space on that block.
90% of paystation transactions are conducted with a credit card.
In the past year, PBOT has been removing the last 453 single-space meters. The meters, which do not take credit cards, have become obsolete and replacing them with paystations is more cost effective, promotes better parking management and provides a better user experience.
Installing a single paystation costs $450 versus $700 to install a full block-face of single-space parking meters.
There are currently 1730 paystations in Portland.
In the first half of 2017, the agency expects to introduce two new parking solutions: mobile pay and pay by plate technology. Both tools are expected to make it easier and more convenient for users to pay for parking.
Parking meters and paystations are primarily tools to regulate the supply and demand of on-street parking. The goal is to create turnover so visitors have easy access to businesses and other amenities by finding parking without having to circle the block.