Who Really Invented The Garage Door?

Many assume the garage door was invented in the U.S. in the early 1900s when the garage first became a prominent part of the American scene, but a genesis of the garage and garage door goes far back beyond that.

The evolution of the garage door has come full circle.

Carriage house garage doors are now a popular door option, which is very much a move back to where the concept of the garage door started.

Carriage house doors have been around for centuries, and are the precursor to the garage and the garage door. But the history of the garage door may date far before that as well.

With the evolution of the wheel, the devices that utilized the wheel evolved and likewise the places to store those mechanisms. If a garage is any place to store a wheeled vehicle, then garages have been around for millenniums.

According to Wikipedia, there is evidence of wheeled vehicles from the 4th millennium B.C., with some dispute about whether they were first found in Mesopotamia, the North Caucasus or Central Europe. The first pictures of wheeled mechanisms come from Poland and 3500-3350 B.C.

It may be a matter of pride to claim to be first at any innovation, but it's a mistake to assume the evolution of the garage and the garage door, are directly linked to the development of the automobile.

The history of the garage and the garage door are not an American story, historically. It would be much more accurate to say the wheel, the carriage and the carriage house door spurred the genesis of the modern-day garage and garage door.

One thing about innovation is that is creates need. With the dawn of the carriage, came the need to have a place to store them for easy and safe access. In western culture, the doors to open or access those structures became known as carriage house doors-----which often featured strap hinges, which would help swing the doors open.

Historically the process of storing a vehicle, or docking it, was called gaer---a French verb, which means to cover or to shelter. The English word garage is taken from the French verb. The word garage probably did not exist before the 19th century and certainly not before the 18th century. The word didn't appear in the English dictionary until 1902.

History is not as exact a science as one may think. Swinging doors have existed in Asia, for example, for centuries.

Garage doors weren't suddenly invented in America in 1921 when C.G. Johnson came up with the invention of a sectional door or in 1936 when Leno Martin "invented" a new style one-piece swing-up door, to replace the side swinging doors of that time. They were simply called something else before the concept of a garage or garage door took root.

The garage is simply the evolution of structures, which have been in use elsewhere for a long time. The growing popularity of carriage house garage doors is simply a return to something that has been around for centuries.

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Antone Clark
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