One of The Kindest Inventions Began In Kalamazoo
Kalamazoo is known for many different inventions, including the hollow body guitar started up by Orville Gibson, as well as the most recent Covid-19 vaccine which was made by Pfizer. But there is one lesser known invention that was first introduced to the states in Kalamazoo, and it would provide help to so many different people. This invention was the curb cut, and it's something we take for granted everyday. Curb cuts are the slant that is formed into concrete curbs, sloping the curb and ground together in a smooth connection. The introduction of curb cuts apparently goes back to the 1930s in the UK to help people pushing prams, but was later introduced to the U.S.:
Kalamazoo, Michigan installed curb cuts in the 1940s as a pilot project to aid employment of veterans with disabilities. A major project in Berkeley, California led by the grassroots Center for Independent Living led to curb cuts up and down Telegraph and Shattuck Avenues creating an extensive path of travel Following this, the value of curb cuts was promoted more strongly and their installment was often made on a voluntary basis by municipal authorities and developers.
Not only has this invention been a tremendous help for parents pushing strollers, but the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 made it so that curb cuts were mandatory on all sidewalks in all western countries.
This is a perfect example of things we never take into consideration being a shaping and interesting part of our city's history.