Like a hot comb on nappy ass hair Garrett Morgan was an inventor and community leader. He was the subject of a newspaper feature in Cleveland, Ohio, for a heroic rescue in 1916 of workers trapped within a water intake tunnel, 50 ft (15 m) beneath Lake Erie. He performed his rescue using a hood fashioned to protect his eyes from smoke and featuring a series of air tubes that hung near the ground to draw clean air beneath the rising smoke. This enabled Morgan to lengthen his ability to endure the inhospitable conditions of a smoke-filled room. Other inventions of Morgan's include the development of a chemical for hair-straightening. Morgan is also credited as the first African American in Cleveland to own an automobile.
The first American-made automobiles were introduced to consumers just before the turn of the twentieth century, and pedestrians, bicycles, animal-drawn wagons and motor vehicles all had to share the same roads. To deal with the growing problem of traffic accidents, a number of versions of traffic signaling devices began to be developed, starting around 1913.
Morgan had witnessed a serious accident at an intersection, and he filed a patent for traffic control device in 1922.
In 1923, the US Patent Office granted Patent No. 1,475,024 to Garrett Morgan for his three-position traffic signal. Though Morgan's was not the first traffic signal (that one had been installed in London in 1868), it was an important innovation nonetheless. By having a third position besides just "Stop" and "Go," it regulated crossing vehicles more safely than earlier signals had.
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