Elijah McCoy

About

The Elijah McCoy neighborhood is named after the inventor who first worked privately in a home-based machine shop in Ypsilanti, developing improvements and inventions while working for the Michigan Central Railroad. One of his inventions included an automatic lubricator for oiling the steam engines of locomotives and ships, which made them more efficient. In addition, McCoy designed an oil-drip cup that enabled trains to run smoother as they traveled on the railroad tracks. In 1882, McCoy settled in Detroit, where he worked as a mechanical consultant to many engineering firms. Although he is the most well-known as the inventor of the lubricating oil cup, he also invented a portable ironing board, a lawn sprinkler, and enhanced rubber heels for shoes. Throughout his life, McCoy filed nearly 60 U.S. patents. In "Story of the Negro," Booker T. Washington cited him as having produced more patents than any other African-American inventor of his time. McCoy passed away at the age of 86 on Oct. 10, 1929 in Detroit. Several landmarks preserve his legacy: In 1974, the state of Michigan put a historical marker in front of his former home on Lincoln Street, and the City of Detroit named a nearby street in his honor the following year. In 2011, Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow pushed for an amendment to the Patent Reform Act of 2011 to name the first satellite office of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, which opened in Detroit in 2012, the Elijah J. McCoy United States Patent and Trademark Office, according to the Detroit Historical Society.

View More Nearby Schools