If you think you know the history of the garage door, than think again. Our ever modest friend, the garage door, has a history that makes the eldest human being seem like a spry youth. Not only does the garage door predate anyone alive right now, they could be said to even predate cars themselves.To be fair, one might have to play a bit loose with the definition. But by some accounts, what we think of as a garage door dates back to around 450 B.C. These modified gates served as a method of preventing egress from or entry into gatehouses for anyone who wasn’t supposed to be there. Keeping a door in place ensured that anyone trying to steal a chariot would be up for quite the noisy ordeal.
The Horseless Carriage
However, it’s probably more fair to say that the birth of the garage needed to coincide with the birth of the car. Or, to be more precise, the horseless carriage. To the modern ear that term seems like a cute and affectionate call back to earlier times. But when cars were first starting to appear in the world, they really were considered to be a horseless carriage. And where does one store a carriage? Why, one would store a carriage in the barn with the horses. The cars of the time weren’t really seen as a replacement for the horse. They were more of a secondary mode of transportation. As much exciting novelty as something to really count on. The garage doors of the time were just as one would expect. They were usually barn doors. Though the more wealthy who could afford a full carriage house would afford their vehicles that luxury. The doors were just doors like any other. Simple, normal, wooden doors. Sometimes opening outward. Though as time went by some people experimented with sliding doors.
The Parking Lot
For a brief time, people also had another experiment in mind. They tried to implement something similar to what we’d know today as a parking lot. Too many people were becoming annoyed with their expensive new cars smelling of animal dung. Everyone chipping in to create a new place to store them seemed like a good idea. But a long walk, or even a ride on one’s horse to get to a car just wasn’t very enjoyable.This was the birth of the modern garage. By this time, the cost of automobiles had plummeted. No long an item which only the rich could afford, it was in the reach of the upper middle class. And suddenly the public at large had a chance to see what cars had to offer. And to put in their own ideas about what they wanted for storage. Sears helped come to the rescue by selling actual garages through their catalogs. Over time, these new garages crept closer and closer to one’s actual home. Until it became a real part of it.
By the 1920s, the doors of a garage had become much closer to what we know today. In 1926, one even had the option of electric garage doors. By the late 1920s, garages had become so important that they were one of the primary points to demonstrate the value of a house. Finally, by the 1940s what we think of as the modern garage finally became the norm. They were no longer seperated at all from a house, and would now allow entry directly from both outside and inside one’s home. The doors themselves were a bit more crude than what we have today. But at the same time, it’s nothing that someone from our time would find at all strange or confusing.
Whether one marks their history as one of only a hundred years or two thousand, garage doors have been with us for a very long time. And we can certainly expect to see them for many more years down the road.
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