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A brief history of the garage door

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What's the biggest, baddest door in your house? Nope -- not the front door. In keeping with America's automotive obsession, it's much more likely to be the garage door. And though architects and builders like to pay lip service to the importance of the front door, in practice, it's often the garage door that's more conspicuous.

This wasn't always the case. Before World War II, the front door was the undisputed focal point of any house, while the garage was pointedly hidden away at a back corner of the property. In the booming postwar economy of the 1950s, though, Americans finally attained Herbert Hoover's pre-Depression promise of "two cars in every garage" -- and then some. Our houses haven't been the same since.

Thanks to the countless Americans who still equate the number of cars they own with their value as human beings, multi-car garages have become status symbols. No wonder garages are the most prominent feature in so many modern...