Origin of the Street Sweeper
Even before the invention of the street sweeper, street sanitation has long been a priority. Organized street sanitation dates back to the 18th century. Ben Franklin engineered the first street cleaning district in Philadelphia by charging each home 6 cents per month to clean their streets twice a week.
Since the eighteenth century, street cleaning methods have evolved. Walk-behind street sweepers were developed as they cleaned six times as much as one man. However, J.M. Murphy is credited with developing the fist street sweeping machine. He had a vision for a motorized street sweeper that would be driven. He drew up blue prints of his vision and searched for someone to adopt his brain child. Finally, in 1903, he partnered with Daniel M. Todd. Their partnership signified the birth of Elgin Sweeper Company.
The Street Sweeper
However, despite Murphy and Todd's partnership, many hurdles remained. There were still engineering details to be worked out and improvements to be made once the blueprints were actually formed into metal. One modification was to add a belt conveyor in order to move dirt from the broom to the dirt box. After much trial and experimentation, the street sweeper that Murphy had envisioned was completed.
In 1914, Elgin Sweeping Company sold its first sweeper to the city of Boise Idaho. Daniel Todd was credited with the sale. Thomas Finegan, Boise's street commissioner, argued that a motorized sweeper would be more cost effective than a horse-drawn sweeper, as the city had previously used. Finegan turned out to be correct as he reported a cost savings of almost $3,000 after the first year!
In 1917, following introduction and initial sales, J.M. Murphy received a patent on his sweeper. The switch from man power to motorized sweepers sky rocketed after World War II when the demand for civilian goods and services virtually eliminated the pool of low paid workers. Many modifications were made to the street sweeper over the years including separate engines, sweepers with more capacity, and more power. Today, street sweeping is a method used by townships and companies all over the world.
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