The world’s first traffic lights

Victoria Tower, Palace of Westminster, c.1870.

Street view towards the Palace of Westminster, circa 1870. X

In the second week of December, 1868, the world’s first traffic lights were installed outside the Palace of Westminster in London.

Green and red gaslights were installed to control night-time traffic, and were operated by a police officer. However, while considered a success, less than a month later the contraption exploded. Reports vary on whether the officer operating it at the time died or was only injured.


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