The license plate on a 2012 Fiat 500c. Photo by Don Bain

Today marks the 111th anniversary of the American license plate

On the 24th of April in 1901, New York issued the first license plate at a time when only 15,000 primitive vehicles existed on the North American continent, leaving over a quarter of a billion parking spaces still available to the lucky traveler.

Today there are over 246 million vehicles in the U.S. alone, and over 210 million licensed drivers nationwide with a wide variety of specialty, novelty and standard license plates on their cars.

License plates for even one state come in a variety of designations from those on trucks and trailers, not to mention law enforcement, dealer, disabled verteran, farm, government, manufacturer and other vehicles.

Then there are numerous special interest plates for supporters of everything from Adopt a Greyhound, Amateur Radio, American Indian Scholars and Advancing Clean Energy to Broncos, collector and college tags to those honoring the 10th Mountain Infantry, state or federal Senators or Representatives and many, many more.

A recent news article on 9News reported there are so many different styles of tags today, it is becoming confusing to both witnesses and law enforcement personnel trying to record the numbers. The plates once notoriously fabricated by prison inmates may now be helping felons to hide in plain sight, simply as a result of the overwhelming variety of plates on the road.

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So when you’re out on the road today, pay a little attention to the license plates on the cars around you, noting the state, type, numbers, pictures, styles and themes they represent.

Personally, we will put a candle in a red velvet cupcake in honor of the lowly license plate's 111th birthday. It may be low on most people’s lists of important things, but it keeps costing more and more to soothe its injured ego.

When we blow out the candle we’ll wish safe travel for all our readers throughout the coming summer vacation season and that you'll find one of those open parking spaces whenever you need one.