An October 9, 1959 article discusses how a city ordinance in Mobile, Alabama had been proposed by three city commissioners – all of whom were male – to ban shoes with heels more than 1-½ inches (3.8 cm) in height and less than 1 inch (2.54 cm) in diameter.
The reason for this law was concern over a spiked heel getting caught in the joints of the sidewalks and in drainage gratings, which could cause injury and then a lawsuit against the city.
About fifty damage suits had already been filed by women who had fallen on the city streets over the prior two years.
The fine for violating the law was $5 (approximately $43 today), but there was a way around the ordinance. All one had to do was apply for a free permit, which allowed women to wear spiked shoes in exchange for agreeing not to sue the city.
After the law was adopted on October 13, 1959, Mrs. Betty McNutt became the first to obtain the high-heel permit.