Fire & Finance Blog

Fire & Finance Blog

License Plates


Everything we take for granted today had to start somewhere. There were once tea kettles without whistles, and pencils without erasers. Before someone could build a better mousetrap, another guy had to invent a lousy one.

Necessity is truly the mother of invention.

Take the common license plate. You see them on cars the world over. They come in different colors, and shapes, but the idea is the same: they offer a simple way of identifying an individual vehicle.

Believe it or not, there were cars before there were license plates. The first cars hit the road at the very end of the 19th century, but it took a few years before some genius came up with the license plate.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the first license plates appeared in 1901.

That was when New York State passed a law requiring license plates on motor vehicles.

At the time, there were just fewer than 15,000 sputtering automobiles in the entire country, traveling over muddy, rudimentary roads without a license for the driver or the automobile.

Now, there are over 260 million cars, trucks and buses in the nation, and all sporting license plates.

The nation's 46,000 automobile dealers issue temporary tags with new sales, which total over 7.6 million per year, along with some 465,000 motorcycles. 

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