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The History of Garage Doors from Ancient Times to Modern Day

Most of us have experienced the benefits of the modern day electric garage door. We may take for granted the history of garage doors and how innovations along the way helped evolve the garage door into what it is today.

We will explore below the history of garage doors and how they transformed from simple gatehouses for storing chariots to the stylish remote controlled garage doors of present day.

Gatehouses for Chariots

The origin of garage doors can be traced as far back as 3500-2250 BC after the invention of the wheel. The initial Potter’s wheel was not used for transportation, but as time progressed wheels were used on the first horse-drawn chariots. As wheeled transportation became increasingly popular, the need for a place to store these vehicles arose.

In ancient times, chariots would be kept inside gatehouses for storage and protection. References to storing chariots are mentioned as far back as ancient Greek and even Biblical texts. Chariots became popular for use in war as well as for racing during the Olympic games in Greece. They were commonly stored in town centers and within government run workshops.

Carriage Houses

A number of different horse-drawn vehicles developed from the initial chariot including buggies, carriages, and coaches. As a result, the simple gatehouse morphed into what became known as carriage houses for parking and storing these vehicles. As this type of transportation became more common to the average citizen, carriage houses grew in popularity.

Carriage houses were almost never attached to homes like we see with many common garage doors today. Most carriage houses opened outward like today’s side-hinged garage doors. Many carriage houses were previously used as barns before they were used for vehicle storage.

Origin of the Modern-Day Garage Door

The invention of the automobile in the late 1800s led to the need for the modern day garage door. The first cars had no roof and were easily exposed to the elements. These automobiles were initially sheltered in carriage houses alongside horse-drawn vehicles. While this proved to be a temporary solution, the odor of horses and the horizontal openings made them less appealing.

At the turn of the century, shelters more suitable for automobiles began to appear. The first sectional garage door was known as the “float over door” was produced in 1902 by Cornell Iron Works in Chicago. Soon after, Variety Manufacturing developed a “cross horizontal folding door” which was big enough to house a train locomotive.

Entrepreneurs took advantage of the increasing popularity of cars and built parking lots as well as large garages for vehicle storage. Automobile owners were able to park in these garages for a monthly fee. This concept began to change with the mass production of vehicles and an increase in cars outside of the city.

Overhead Garage Doors

The Ford Model T became the first mass-produced vehicle in 1913. The use of the assembly line drove down the cost making it common for the average American to purchase an automobile. With a large portion of Americans now owning cars, the demand for an at-home garage door was higher than ever.

The earliest private garage doors swung out just like a barn door, which caused many problems. Snow would pile in front of the door requiring a lot of work to just get the door opened. Really anything in the path of these doors could prevent owners from getting their vehicle out of the garage.

The solution was the overhead garage door first created by C.G. Johnson in 1921. Like we see with sectional garage doors today, Johnson’s invention folded while lifting upward. The garage door ran parallel to the above garage ceiling. This not only saved the work involved with opening a side-hinged door, but saved space in the garage as well.

Electric Garage Door Opener

Five years later, Johnson further solved the problem of manual labor by applying electricity to his invention. Thus, the first electric garage door was born. The idea of an electric garage door was very appealing to the public and the demand catapulted the garage door industry.

Continual improvements have been made to electric garage doors since the initial design. Remote control garage door openers became increasingly popular in the 1980s and 1990s to make garage doors more usable than ever before.

Modern Garage Doors

Garage doors are a common luxury for storing vehicles in present day. Residential garage doors are even available in a large selection of styles, designs, and sizes to accommodate the owner’s needs.

Many innovations and improvements have been made since the original gatehouses stored chariots in ancient times. However, the modern day garage door is not completely free of flaws. Action Door is ready to service your garage door or fix your garage door opener if any problems arise.

Action Door additionally offers repair and installation for residential garage doors and many different types of commercial garage doors. Call us today at 1-866-366-7463 or fill out our Garage Door Install Estimate Form for a free quote.

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