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Blog post from Tuesday, 13 October, 2015

Traffic lights, ca. 1933, by Sam Hood

Sydney’s first traffic lights

On this day, 13 October, 1933, Sydney’s first electric traffic lights began operating. The Sydney Morning Herald described the event as ‘the inauguration of an “electro-matic vehicle-actuated controller” at the intersection of Kent and Market streets.’

The introduction of traffic lights was considered to be a success as ‘Motorists took to the innovation surprisingly quickly’. A few incidents, however, were noted. A woman, with several children in the back of the car, stopped in the middle of the street, halting traffic while the new lights were explained to her. Also, ‘A number of men, evidently pleased to see that the traffic policeman was missing from his accustomed spot, drove gaily across the intersection in defiance of the red lights.’

Superintendent Carter stated that he believed traffic policemen would still be needed to detect offenders against traffic regulations.

See the images from the Sam Hood collection from our catalogue of pictures and manuscripts.

For more articles on historical events in Australia from 1803 to 1954 see the digitised newspapers section of Trove.