On this date in 1914, the first traffic light was installed at the corner of Euclid and E. 9 St. in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. The signal was invented by African-American inventor Garrett Morgan, the son of former slaves. (Morgan also invented the gas mask).
The Morgan traffic signal was a T-shaped pole that featured three positions: Stop, Go and an all-directional Stop position (that allowed pedestrians to cross the street.) Morgan sold the rights to his traffic signal to General Electric for $40,000. The four-way red, amber, and green traffic light, an adaptation of railway traffic signals, was invented six years later by William L. Potts, a Detroit police officer. It was installed on the corner of Woodward and Michigan Avenues in Detroit in 1920.
In honor of the life-saving traffic light (and the great summer produce at markets around the country), I’m serving a red, yellow, and green salad for dinner alongside some garlicky shrimp and jasmine rice.
Traffic Light Salad
(Corn with Jalapeño and Tomatoes)
4 T. unsalted butter
6 ears of corn on the cob
1 jalapeño chile, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tomato, diced
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
Remove the husks and the silk from the corn and cut the kernels off as close to the husk as possible
Melt the butter in a large, heavy saute pan, Add the corn, jalapeño, salt and pepper and saute uncovered on medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until corn is tender. Remove from heat and add diced tomato and grated lime zest. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.