The Muni-Meters are coming.
Initially, I thought these posts springing up all over the East Village were going to blossom into payphones, which just didn't make sense. Then I realized: They're Muni-Meters, those European parking meters "prone to provoking anguished cries of confusion," according to the Times when New York City began adopting the Muni-Meters in 1999.
New York's analog meters had their guts replaced by digitals in 1995 until the last mechanical meter was removed from Coney Island in 2006. But the housings remained with us, those gray, cobra-head shapes made by Mackay in Canada.
The arrival of the Munis means the demise of the old parking meters, a familiar shape relatively unchanged since it was invented by Carl Magee in 1935.
I like clunky, clockworky mechanical things, so I'll miss the meters. I like giving them a musical slap with my palm as I walk by them. And I like their coin collectors--seeing those men and women coming down the street with their little carts, hearing the crashing of coin as they empty meter after meter. I guess this means they'll be vanishing, too.
Photo: Ron Luttrell II Collection