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Public Buildings > Alachua
County Courthouse, 1884-1961 - Auto Tag Line
County Courthouse, 1884-1961-Auto
Paying taxes at the Courthouse has been an experience shared by many folks in Alachua County-certainly by the crowd lined up in this photograph. The lineup was for auto tags, or license plates. License plates for Florida have been manufactured at the Florida State Prison in Raiford since the 1920s. Of course, cars did not always have tags-the first official state-made license plate was issued by Massachusetts in 1903, and other states followed suit quickly, with variations in metal, leather, wooden shingles, sheet metal and some do-it-yourself styles. An early New York State requirement was that vehicles have the initials of the owner's name on the back of the car, but when registrations became too numerous the state amended the decree and required that assigned numbers be shown on plates or leather pads. The state collected a $1 fee and assigned the owner a number. He had to buy brass numerals, bolt them to a strip of leather, and attach his homemade tag to his car. The scene in the photo is on the east side of the Courthouse. Visible in the distance is Geiger's, the first shop west of Wilson's on the north side of the Square. Geiger's always displayed the latest styles in wedding dresses in their second-floor display window.
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