Garrett A. Morgan was a Cleveland inventor and entrepreneur at the beginning of the 20th century. The son of freed slaves, Morgan moved to Cleveland via Cincinnati in 1895. After apprenticing in a sewing machine shop, he opened his own sewing machine store as well as a tailoring shop and a hair salon, where he developed a whole line of popular hair straightening products.
Morgan is best known as the inventor of the early gas mask, a device he patented in 1914 and which proved lifesaving in the Waterworks Tunnel Disaster of 1916.
Morgan also created an early traffic signal (pictured at left), which was the first such device to feature a "caution" as well as a "stop" and "go" signal. He sold the signal to General Electric in 1923 for $40,000.
Garrett Morgan is honored as an inductee at the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron. He is buried in Lake View Cemetery.
(photo © 2007 S. Mitchell)