These Weird Things Are Only Found On One Street in Downtown Amarillo
Recently, I was driving around Downtown Amarillo and was sitting at a stoplight on SE 2nd when something caught my eye.
"What the heck is that?" I asked myself.
It seemed like a long rectangle steel plate that was embedded into the brick road. You could tell that whatever they were, they sure weren't functioning or of any current use.
But what in the world were they?
Curiosity has always gotten the best of me, so away I went on a quest to find out what the strange little metal things embedded in the brick roads were.
Google, Common Sense, and a Boomer
First, I went to the Mecca of all people with questions: Google.
Google Maps showed me that these little rectangular things appeared at intervals on SE 2nd Ave between S Pierce Street and just past S Taylor Street.
Common sense told me that it had to do with traffic. I gathered this much due to the proximity each one was from the intersection. Perhaps a signal of sorts for traffic?
My hypothesis had formed: these were old-time traffic light sensors; had to be!
Finally, I showed a photo of these things to a buddy of mine in his mid-60s who had lived in Amarillo all his life.
"That's an old red light sensor to change the traffic light," he grumbled.
Electro-Matic Pressure Pad Traffic Detectors
Pleased as pie that my first guess at the mysterious rectangle was correct, I returned to Google to find out a little more. Unfortunately, there's not that much out there. But it seems like these things were used before the automated systems of today.
My Boomer buddy informed me that these pressure pads used to be all over town but couldn't give me an exact year they were installed.
The little information I could gather from Google suggests that these pneumatic contraptions came about in the 1950s. So I would hazard a guess that they were used in the 70s and 80s.
They're Only Found On SE 2nd Street
Maybe I missed one while scouring Google Maps, but it seems like you'll only find these curious little relics on that one specific stretch of brick road.
Whatever the reason is for this, I think it's a neat feature that hints at the city's bygone times.
And you know what? It was probably more efficient than the obscenely mistimed lights we have right now.