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107 Jamz Celebrates Black Inventors – The Street Sweeper And Ticket Punch

Charles Brooks Street Sweeper - YouTube
Charles Brooks Street Sweeper – YouTube

Mardi Gras is in full swing in Louisiana and during this time of year, the street sweeper is a God send, for city workers responsible for cleaning the streets after a parades.  It would be one heck of a job if all the trash, bottles, beads, candy and other throws, had to be manually swept or picked up.  With thousands of parades taking place across the state, it would take weeks to clean up!

The very first street sweeper was patented in 1849 by, C.S. Bishop, however it wasn’t that practical.  Bishops machine was more like a motorized broom, with rotating disks covered with wire bristles.  Thanks to the improvements made by black inventor, Charles B. Brooks, the street sweeper was completely transformed.  Brooks’ sweeper was patented on March 17, 1896 and was the first self-propelled street sweeper truck.  His design had a truck-like frame, mounted on axles supported by wheels.  This is pretty much the same design used today.

The Charles B. Brooks sweeper truck had revolving brushes attached to the front fender that pushed trash to the curb.. These brushes could interchange with other attachments like, a flat scraper to use during bad weather on snow and ice.  Learn more in the video below.

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Before the Brooks’ sweeper, city streets were cleaned by chain gangs and walking workers.  The workers would have to pick trash up by hand, broom, or by horse-drawn machines. The street sweeper wasn’t his only invention.  Charles B. Brooks also improved the operation of the ticket punch or hole puncher.  There were two designs prior to his; one patented by Solyman Merrick in 1838 and Robert James Kellett in 1867.

However like the street sweeper, Brooks had a better design.  His patented puncher looked similar to the metal,single hole, hand held, hole punchers of today.  The Brooks paper punch was called a, “Ticket punch,” back then and it had a built in waste holder/receptacle to prevent a mess of round paper dots.

Charles Brooks Paper



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