The word “garage” comes from “garer” which is a French term for “to shelter,” an appropriate description for all those who use their garage to shelter their car, their workshop, or simply store their overflowing household junk.
As the car found its way into society, so did the need for a place to store it. Cars were earlier parked next to the horses in the carriage house and the car owners in those days were usually of upper class than most so, having a fancy new car smell like horse manure was a big no-no!
The first garages used to look a lot like our modern-day parking lots, but only on a single level. People concluded that if they were able to store more than one horse in a barn, then perhaps they could store multiple cars in a similar structure. This system worked fine until about 1910, when there too many cars emerged for the garages to accommodate.
The carriage house could have worked great before, if only they could kiss goodbye those stinky horses. And that led to the creation of the garage, as we know it today. Their built was simple and, of course, had a door, because on of the primary purposes was to safeguard the car from the elements. The door was a double door which was attached to the garage with strap hinges that opened outwards. These doors were vulnerable to heavy wear and tear with the hinges creaking, screws bending and from eventually falling out being open and closed almost everyday. Also, if there were snow present on the ground, it would obstruct the doors so they could not be operated until the snow was shoveled around them. Then the sliding track doors were introduced, but that meant that the garage must be built at least double the width of the door.
Then an answer to the question of the century came with the invention of the overhead door by C.G. Johnson in 1921. This door was able to lift upwards, folding parallel to the garage ceiling. After five years, in 1926, Mr. Johnson also invented the very first electric garage door opener.
Garage Doors in 2014
Today the garage door designs are far more advanced and versatile than of a few decades ago. With their wide variety, diverse building materials and their enhanced service life, today’s overhead doors are designed to last for over 25 years or more with little service and low-maintenance – a requirement for every moving object in a home.
So, next time when you see that door that keeps your car safe, don’t forget where it came from.