For all of us, driving has been the same since we first started, well maybe there have been slight changes but nothing drastic like the early 1900s. We have had the traditional paved two-lane streets, multiple-lane highways, one-ways, 3-color traffic lights, and more the entire time to control the flow of traffic but this was not always the case.

When it comes to automotive travel, Michigan is always one of the first and most commonly spoken states during those conversations. Henry T Ford is a large part of that reason as he created the first motor vehicle and jumpstarted the automotive industry, leading to our robust driving circuit. After Ford's efforts, Michigan would need designated places for cars to drive and keep the tires from being destroyed, this would lead to the creation of the paved road and 3-color traffic light.

Detroit would soon be known as the Motor City after Ford was able to expand upon his original idea and began creating different types of cars. As more and more vehicles began flooding the dirt roads of the rural and downtown areas, something needed to be done about the conditions of the road and the flow of traffic. At the time everything was limited to staying to the right and being cautious, just like walking but that would not last for long.

Detroit is home to one of the longest streets in America as Woodward Avenue Stretches over 27 miles from Detroit to Pontiac. Woodward Avenue is littered with sporting arenas, zoos, restaurants, parades and so much more, creating a lively stretch of cities on the East side of Michigan. Woodward Avenue is also historic for not only the state but the country because of two significant automotive advancements.

Detroit would make history in the automotive industry once again as they found solutions to both the road conditions and the flow of traffic. The first thing that was rectified was the conditions of the dirt roads, starting with a trial process between 6-mile and 7-mile roads. This stretch of paved road would be considered the first paved mile in the United States but Bellefontaine, Ohio is credited with the first 4 paved roads thanks to George Bartholomew but none of those were a mile long.

There is one thing that Detroit can for sure lay claim to and no one is going to try and undercut them for the glory, it's the invention of the modern-day, 3-color traffic light. In the early 1900s, there was some regulation to traffic but not enough to keep everyone safe. In response, in 1920, William Potts, a Detroit Police Officer created the first four-way, 3-color traffic light in America.

The introduction of the yellow (or amber) light was to warn drivers that a red light was coming and that they needed to slow down to prepare to come to a stop. The idea of the yellow light was created and patented by Garrett Augustus Morgan, Sr. an African-American inventor and businessman.

If you haven't been to Woodward Avenue yet, it might be time for a trip to Detroit.

Michigan Man Created the Four-Way Traffic Light, 1920

Included is a gallery of vintage traffic lights

The 2021 Woodward Dream Cruise in Detroit, Michigan

Gallery Credit: Mark Hespen

Michigan's Cleanest City: Detroit