PM Entries

Amarillo, Texas

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Via Nick Sortland:
Amarillo has one sad center for a city, which according to wiki has always had steady population growth, but strangely a very much dying urban center.  I went there once to visit relatives, and all that I can remember is that it was large, flat, and brown.  Even when coming from Fargo, ND, Amarillo made that look like a green lush paradise compared to the hard dirt of the Texas panhandle.
There is a funny thing about the part of the country from around Tulsa down through this part of Texas: it all looks burnt to hell by the sun in 45 degree view, street level retail is almost completely absent, and the traffic engineers have been kind enough to redesign nearly every road into a one-way for maximum efficiency, which almost certainly assures maximum pedestrian bleakness.
I don’t know if this is some kind of hold over from the prior rancher attitudes of these places, with a desire for your own private land to defend to the death in a shootout, but these places all seem incredibly dead, with a huge absence of any kind of public space.
Parkersburg, West Virginia:
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Elliott Lewis:

Here is my submission for the Golden Crater, aptly named “Park”ersburg, WV. With a population around 31,000, it is the fourth-largest city in West Virginia and my hometown. This town has seen Native American raids on settlers (and vice versa), George Washington surveying, planned treason by Vice President Aaron Burr (check out the history of Blennerhassett Island), Civil War soldiers, some of the first governors of WV, Wright Borthers flights, birth of the country’s oil and gas industry, important transportation hubs, large-scale hardware and chemical manufacturing, and countless historical events. Those which took place downtown are likely under asphalt (like the home of the first governor of our state).

By my calculations, including street and sidewalk ROWs, the total amount of land in downtown Parkersburg is approximately 61% paved. Of the developable land in this same area (not counting streets), about 50% is dedicated surface parking, most of which is monthly rentals. Yup, the only short term parking is on-street, in one garage, or in a newly-built parking lot off of 6th St. They dedicate half their land to surface parking. Ugh.

The area in question, besides the entire downtown area, is that from 4th Street to the Little Kanawha River. Much of this is dominated by City, County, and Federal government services and includes the County Courthouse (beautiful Romanesque revival) and the Municipal Building (no so beautiful). From the Google Maps link, it shows some buildings currently demolished; the entire block between Juliana/Market/1st/2nd is paved, as will the building across Market Street abutting 2nd St (the old jail). And to make matters more depressing, the area is bounded by elevated railroad tracks near Ann St.,  an at-grade railway, and a concrete floodwall. I’ve included an aerial screenshot from Google Earth, the same with parking highlighted, and a couple of photos (a couple of historical ones and one from 2005 – note that the buildings toward the top of this photo are now demolished). Enjoy.

Detroit, Michigan:

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Via Luke Klipp:
…a swath of surface parking lining the city’s waterfront just east of the Renaissance Center.
Syracuse, New York: 
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Marshall Allen:
I would like to nominate Syracuse, NY for the 2015 Parking Crater Award.
I am from Rochester, NY which has the coveted 2014 Parking Crater Award. I would like to nominate a fellow upstate NY city, Syracuse. I went to school for Landscape Architecture at SUNY-ESF in Syracuse and so I know the city quite well. This image is of downtown Syracuse just south of the I-690/I-81 interchange. This elevated highway goes through the heart of the city and since its inception, the land immediately adjacent to the highway, has suffered the consequences of low property values for 50 plus years. Additionally, Syracuse’s economy is well past it’s prime. These two things have combined to create this horrific parking crater in the heart of New York State’s Central City.
Hopefully this award, will bring further attention to the surplus parking problem in downtown Syracuse. Thank you.
Nashville, Tennessee:
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Via Maggie:
Midtown Nashville, a sea of parking around a hospital cluster. Some of these rooftops are multi-story parking garages.
Boston, Massachusetts:
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Via JM:
I tried to nominate the South Boston Waterfront (AKA Seaport District) last round, but I missed the deadline. If this one doesn’t not make it to the finals, your northeastern bias will be cemented once and for all. It’s one gigantic parking lot, almost the size of all of downtown Boston.
Waterville, Maine: 
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Via Bill Basford:

Here is my nomination for your new parking crater contest. This parking crater is in the heart of Waterville, Maine, and it is called “The Concourse”, apparently in an attempt to gloss over the damage to the city. Waterville is a small city with a population of only 15,800 for the city itself, and perhaps 40,000 for the greater Waterville area. The bird’s eye view is from Bing maps. The coordinates are roughly 44.55 N and 69.63 W. This crater has over 600 parking spaces, not counting those along adjacent streets, on roughly 6 acres of land, including the access roads. This crater dates from about 1970, when Urban Removal came to Waterville, which means the economic damage from this crater has continued for about 45 years.

What makes this parking crater so special? I see at least five problems with this parking crater. First, not only is this crater unusually large for a small city, it is located in the heart of the city, on what should be the most valuable land in the whole Waterville area. Second, this crater is entirely city owned, which means the city receives no tax revenue from this valuable land, and other taxpayers have to make up the difference. Third, because it is all free parking, including the area designated for all day parking, the city collects no parking revenue from this crater. Fourth, because it is city owned, and in Maine, where we have long, cold, snowy winters, the city pays the entire cost of snow removal each winter . And fifth, here in Maine, where most of a city’s revenue comes from property taxes, much of the cost for snow removal and other expenses, including lighting, falls on homeowners, including those who own cars but rarely use this parking crater, and a significant number of low income people who don’t even own cars.

For a quick recap, this parking crater is unusually large for the size of the city, it is on the most valuable land in the city, it produces no property tax or parking revenue for the city, and the city is stuck with all snow removal and lighting expenses, which are paid mostly out of property tax revenue from homeowners, rather than some form of automobile user fees.

Walnut Creek, California:
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Walnut Creek, California, is located only 35 minutes from downtown San Francisco by BART (metro). I live in Walnut Creek because my home is 1.5 miles from the BART station but also 0.3 miles from a trailhead accessing 500 miles of dirt trails around Mt. Diablo. Off the photo to the right is the Iron Horse Trail, a 35 mile-long paved separated class I bike/ped facility running north/south. As you can see from the photo, to access the BART station (bottom/left quartile of photo) from the trail (0.7 miles away) one has to pass by or through parking lot after parking lot on a busy road or sidewalk. The city of Walnut Creek could have a bustling people-filled downtown but instead allocates much space to car storage.
Mobile, Alabama:
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Via anonymous commenter:

The grassy area on the lower right is an historic fort, completely encircled by an off-ramp from I-10 onto “Water Street,” which ironically cuts off the whole downtown area from said water (the Mobile River). Please note: extra parking provided inside of off-ramp, and between Water Street and cruise ship.

Then, just to the north: Downtown Mobile. It’s hard to choose my favorite parking lot, but if forced I’d say it’s the one abutting Bienville Square’s (the green block) western edge. Great use of a city square!

Los Angeles, California:
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Via anonymous commenter:
LA’s downtown crater is gradually being filled in, but the massive parking lot at North Hollywood station should be a contender
Asheville, North Carolina:
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Downtown Asheville’s “South Slope” area. That’s the transit center in the middle. Luckily, the city is looking at wholesale redevelopment of the area but the conversation has already started to revolve around “parking problems.”
Boise, Idaho:
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Downtown Boise and the fabulous dirt lot between the Front/Myrtle couplet.

 Newport News, Virginia:

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Via Sam:

This is beautiful downtown Newport News, Virginia. The sea of surface parking belongs to the shipyard and creates a dead zone of about 20 city blocks separating the rest of downtown from a residential area to the North (and the CSX tracks cut the area off from the neighborhood to the east). I weep for any pedestrian that has to hoof it through this asphalt wasteland.

Fort Worth, Texas:
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Via anonymous commenter:

Fort Worth, TX. Right next to downtown. Featuring not one, not two, but THREE 6-7 story parking garages spaning five city blocks. That would be fine, but there are another eight full blocks with surface parking lots (three of them are riverfront property) with an additional five blocks partially taken by surface parking. Oh, and there’s on street parking as well. Overkill…

The area is centered on E 2nd St & Grove St, Fort Worth, TX.

From the Air: <img src=”http://i.imgur.com/CTSifzI.jpg” title=”source: imgur.com”/>
Looking West on 3rd st. to downtown: <img src=”http://i.imgur.com/8WmESU5.jpg” title=”source: imgur.com”/>

Camden, New Jersey:

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Via Thegreengrass:

My entry: the neighborhood-killing parking lots on the waterfront in Camden, New Jersey. Years ago, this area housed factories for companies like RCA. Ever since, they’ve been used as parking lots for the equally neighborhood-deadening L3 Building, which is essentially a fortress separating employees from the rest of the city. Residents of the Cooper-Grant neighborhood are trying to rebuild a viable neighborhood here, and the negative effects of these huge parking lots stand directly in the way of that goal.

Tampa, Florida:

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Tampa, FL. This area is adjacent to both the Tampa Bay Times Forum (where the Lightning play) and the middle of downtown. Aside from the sea of designated parking lots, the empty lots in the bottom left of the picture are used at overflow parking during games. There is almost NO lighting and sidewalks.

Outside the picture to the left is Harbour Island, an island with million dollar condos and a beautiful riverwalk. Outside the picture at the bottom is the Channelside district, a new district of mixed use condos and retail, very walkable. And to the top and right is the central business district. This crater separates the three areas and is a pedestrian wasteland.

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