Final Four Parking Madness: Tulsa vs. Houston

Which city has the ugliest asphalt expanse? The deadest downtown? The most awful place to sit and eat lunch? Those are the questions you must ask yourself as we approach the finale of Parking Madness, our hunt for the worst parking crater in the U.S.

We’re wrapping up Final Four competition today with Tulsa and Houston vying for the chance to take on Milwaukee in the championship game.

Here we have Tulsa, where the south half of downtown has pretty much been replaced with thousands of 9 foot-by-20 foot stalls:

Our friend Steve Lassiter in Tulsa sent along these shots to give us some historical context. Here are views of downtown Tulsa, facing north from the same point, in 1978 and 2005:

Fortunately, Tulsa recently enacted a temporary moratorium on new surface parking in its downtown, and momentum seems to be building for a more concerted effort to redevelop Tulsa’s parking wasteland and reclaim downtown from surface parking.

With that, we’ll turn our attention to Houston:

Houston is the last Texas city standing, since Dallas got knocked out by Milwaukee in the other Final Four match-up. This crater — frustratingly — has a light rail line running right through the center of it. Here’s a street view, so you can put yourself in the place of the sad pedestrians who have to walk through this area.

Which of these places needs a good championship-level shaming the most? It’s up to you to decide. The poll is open until 2 p.m. Eastern Time tomorrow:

Which city has the worst parking crater?

  • Tulsa (60%, 175 Votes)
  • Houston (42%, 121 Votes)

Total Voters: 290

  • How cool! You can take the light rail from parking lot to parking lot!!! This would be a great comic Streetfilm.

  • Ian Turner

    I now seriously regret not entering San Jose in this competition. The “downtown” rail station, which is one of the largest transportation hubs in the metropolitan area, with service from some 4 rail agencies and at least half a dozen bus operators, is surrounded by acres of parking in every direction.

    https://maps.google.com/maps?q=San+Jose+Diridon+Station,+San+Jose,+CA&hl=en&sll=40.697488,-73.979681&sspn=0.883954,1.165924&oq=san+jose+diri&hnear=San+Jose+Diridon+Station&t=h&z=17

  • Anon

    Not only does that piece of Houston feature transit-accessible parking lots, but almost half of the buildings visible in the photo appear to be parking garages.

  • Texasota

    So, Houston at least is getting a decent amount of redevelopment downtown. And where you see that line of buildings in the northeast is actually the beginning of a pretty solid chunk going back 13 blocks.

    Tulsa, on the other hand…just look at the zoomed out google map. It looks pretty desolate.

  • Shoupadelica

    That before-and-after photo really makes the Tulsa parking crater seem much more tragic.

  • Bike Soup

    Heck, yeaaaaaaah, Tulsa, we’re THAT awesome! Goooooooooooooooo, Tulsa! Vote Tulsa TWICE!

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, Tulsa has a lot of parking lots – but how many American cities have a suburban-prototype Home Depot within their downtown core?? Beat that, Houston!! (for proof, Google East 8th & S Elgin St., Tulsa, OK)

  • Bike Soup

    Yep. Tulsa, we’re THAT awesome! Gooooooooooooo, Tulsa. Vote at least TWICE!

  • Bike Soup

    Tulsa, we’re W.I.N.N.I.N.G.! Gooooooooooooooooooooo, Tulsa. Vote at least TWICE!

  • Nathan

    Hey. I like that home depot. I’ve walked across those parking lots to shop there. HD stepped up and refurbed the original art deco building on their lot, instead of tearing it down. It is also accessable from a multi-use/bike trail.

  • Anonymous

    I agree, it is a lovely Art Deco building. I believe it was the original headquarters for Warehouse Market or something like that? It’s not the store I have a problem with, it’s the fact that there was enough vacant land available downtown to put a big box store on…

  • Bike Soup

    I love that roundabout! Wheeeeeeeeee! Tulsa, we’re AWESOME!

  • As a native Houstonian, many of us had our doubts about the light rail when it was introduced ten (or something) years ago. Houston is a car city without a doubt

  • Beta Magellan

    Even if it hasn’t necessarily had a huge effect on the city’s transportation as a whole, the existing light rail line is successful on its own terms. Looking at daily boardings per mile (i. e. adjusting for route length) Houston’s second behind Boston and ahead of San Francisco. It may not be a large system yet, but as it stands now Houston’s light rail’s very cost-effective and well-used.

  • Bike Soup

    Ha! Tulsa DESERVES to beat both Houston and Milwuakee! With population of less than 500,000, Tulsa Transit is funded at less than $20 million, just enough to keep the few hipsters who can’t afford to move somewhere else, with a false sense of BRT hopes. Suckaaaaaaaaaaaaaaas!

    Gooooooo Tulsa! Beat Milwuakee! We’re THAT awesome!

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