Parking Madness: Send Us Pics of Parking Lots Where Your City Should Be

Past "Parking Madness" winners Tulsa (left), Rochester (center) and Camden (right).
Parking craters that won the whole thing (left to right): Tulsa, Rochester, and Camden.

Does your city have what it takes to compete in Streetsblog’s fourth annual Parking Madness tournament? Who will join Tulsa, Rochester, and Camden, NJ, as winners of the coveted “Golden Crater”?

We’re looking for 16 parking scars blighting American downtowns. One will advance through our bracket to achieve lasting infamy — and hopefully some hometown coverage that local advocates can put to good use. So send us your parking crater pics!

To nominate a parking crater, submit a photo or satellite image with a description of what makes it so dreadful. Other supporting evidence, like historical photos or maps showing the same area pre-crater, will increase your chances of making the field of 16. You can submit your nominee by commenting on this post or emailing angie [at] streetsblog [dot] org.

Craters that have competed in past brackets are not eligible. You may want to check the 2013, 2014, and 2015 tournaments to make sure your entry is kosher.

Even though previous parking crater contestants put together could probably fill a small northeastern state (no one would ever want to go there, but at least nobody would have trouble finding a place to park), we don’t think we’re approaching a shortage of worthy competitors. After three years of running the Parking Madness tournament, one conclusion we’ve reached is that America has a nearly limitless number of once-walkable places that have been devoured, over time, by surface parking lots.

Now’s your chance to shame your city into doing better. Send us your entries by Friday, March 11.

  • sojourner_7

    Shaming? Really? The group of anti-car/bike-everywhere/tear-down-the-freeway nutjobs that seem to run streetsblog need a reality check. STREETSBLOG. Streets, lets get them improved and modernized so that Cars can be better served. And if you want to be able to remove some of the cars from the roads to ease congestion, give them places to park! Otherwise, perhaps fire up a new usa.sidewalks blog, might be more appropriate.

  • mfs

    Buffalo!!

    They even built structured parking… right next to the downtown bus station and 3 blocks from city hall!

    https://www.google.com/maps/place/Buffalo,+NY/@42.8794472,-78.863377,930a,20y,308.22h,38.32t/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x89d3126152dfe5a1:0x982304a5181f8171!6m1!1e1

  • Chicagoan

    Streets aren’t just for cars, ya know, modernizing streets so that cars will be better served isn’t modernizing streets one bit. I believe I once read that paved streets were realized after years of lobbying by pro-bicycle activist groups in the late 18th/early 19th century. The United States must move past the thought that street design is to benefit the automobile and only the automobile.

    I think Streetsblog exists to advocate for complete street design and bring awareness to reckless road spending.

    Also, my word, the worst way to get cars off the road is to give them more places to park. The United States has so much parking as it is. We don’t need more, we need less.

    Your thoughts are nothing but retrograde planning policies.

  • Chicagoan

    I’d nominate: Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Indianapolis, Houston, Oklahoma City, Orlando, and Phoenix.

  • Fakey McFakename

    Here are some entries for the “places near NYC that should really know better” category:

    Bay Plaza mall in NYC: https://www.google.com/maps/place/Bay+Plaza+Shopping+Center/@40.8657738,-73.8288428,864m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x89c28cb93a4f18d9:0x6ed60d099412750b!6m1!1e1

    Bonus for TWO giant parking lots at the Cross County Mall and Empire City Casino just north of the city line https://www.google.com/maps/@40.9196596,-73.8615321,2667m/data=!3m1!1e3

    Green Acres mall (or should that be gray acres: https://www.google.com/maps/@40.6624441,-73.7228564,1183m/data=!3m1!1e3)

    And, of course, Downtown Newark: https://www.google.com/maps/@40.7331766,-74.171478,1055m/data=!3m1!1e3

  • Fakey McFakename

    Don’t feed the trolls

  • Alicia

    And if you want to be able to remove some of the cars from the roads to ease congestion, give them places to park!

    LMAO. That is one of the funniest troll / contrarian comments I’ve seen on this site. More parking encourages more cars. Reducing car use requires investment in walking and bicycling access, and good public transportation. More parking does not equate to fewer cars.

  • Andrew

    I nominate the area around I-787 in downtown Albany, NY, which cuts off the historic (and beautiful) Pastures neighborhood from the heart of downtown with a highway overpass and open mass of parking lots.

    Also, Anchorage, Alaska. Its downtown is probably more parking than buildings!

  • ohnonononono

    The funny thing is that I bet people still complain about parking in these places. It’s a truism that people will complain about parking no matter how much of it you give them (because then the struggle becomes finding a spot that’s close enough, which is constrained by simple geometry…)

  • Eleanor

    I nominate Canal Park, in Duluth MN. Right near downtown, hot tourist spot, surrounded by the lake and harbor, but oh my lots. Parking lots everywhere.

  • Jason

    It’s nowhere near a subway stop: https://goo.gl/maps/JZD65ugDhES2

    I mean yeah, there’s bus stops there. And New Yorkers will definitely get on the bus, sure, but it’s really not desirable. Because traffic. I know personally the Manhattan crosstown buses that traverse the park are the only buses I’ll willingly plan on (except the M66…or is it the M72…one of those two has way too many turns in its route).

    I remember one time I got completely stranded on an M4 going from 89th/Madison to Morningside Heights because a car and a garbage truck collided and neither of them were willing to pull over until the police came. But the way they stopped wound up blocking all three lanes of traffic.

    I’m not saying it doesn’t count as a parking crater, I’m just suggesting that everyone involved *does* know better and that it’s simply a predictable result of being in a transit desert.

  • Jason

    If *anything* else had the fatality rate of cars, we’d ban it.

    P.S. Regarding this idea that streets inherently belong to cars:

  • whittx

    Niagara Falls New York, about two blocks from the Falls.

  • LONGBEACHIZE

    DTLB in Long Beach, California. On the water and it is mostly used to host the Grand Prix once a year. What can the other 11.5 months of the year could it be used for?

  • US Capitol parking lots, Washington, DC: This may not be as big as some others, but it’s particularly heinously located. In a city with barely any surface parking lots, 4 entire blocks worth of them (plus some full-converted-to-parking streets) separate Union Station, America’s second busiest train station, from downtown DC and the US Capitol. The lots are federally owned and are for the US Capitol complex, so there’s nothing anybody can do to fix them. Developers can’t buy them, and the city can’t tax them into submission. It’s absolute parking madness.

  • The image didn’t come through the first time. Here it is.

  • LAifer

    From my childhood, the Oakland Mall, located at 14 Mile and John R, in the Detroit, MI, suburb of Troy.The entire area is outlined in yellow, and the uses are outlined in red. The total area is just over 103 acres, of which the mall and a few other ancillary uses add up to just under 28 acres. That means that there are about 2.7 acres of parking spaces and their access for every acre of actual use. To give a sense of the scale of this parking area, its perimeter is nearly 1 3/4 miles around – which would take over a half hour to walk!

  • Selling off these parking lots, at today’s historically high market valuations, would raise $230 million for the federal government. That could pay for two entire years of the federal government’s bike/ped program!

  • My high school classmate Justin McCurry, who used to be an engineer at NCDOT, nominates the expansive parking crater created by the State of North Carolina in downtown Raleigh’s northeast corner. Ironically, the parking crater surrounds the governor’s mansion, and as an added poignant touch a few old Victorian houses and grand oak trees somehow survived even as Parking Madness metastasized all around them.

    McCurry adds: “They took away the free bus passes for State government workers, because subsidizing the $30/month was more expensive than subsidizing a parking space.”

  • KathrynR

    I nominate the northwest portion of downtown Dallas, near the Fountain Place building (but all sides of downtown look similar to this). The highway in the corner of the image is Woodall Rodgers Freeway, which acts as the norther border of Downtown. I’ve included a photo that shows downtown at the time land was being cleared for Woodall Rodgers in the 1960s.

  • mattaudio

    Did you see my map of parking lots in Canal Park? http://streets.mn/2016/02/27/map-monday-duluths-canal-parking/ I have the source shapefile if you’re interested.

  • mattaudio

    Red is surface parking.

  • Eleanor

    I had not, thanks for the link. That really is a lot of parking, it doesn’t just look like it!

  • Emily Corban

    I nominate Overton Park’s greensward located in Memphis, TN.

    Overton Park, designed in 1901 by George Kessler, is the “central park” for Memphis residents and is nationally recognized for its historical significance. When Interstate 40 was slated to be routed through the park in 1955, local citizens began a nearly two-decades-long fight that led to victory in the U.S. Supreme Court, whose 1971 landmark decision on Overton Park set a national precedent in preservation law.

    Overton Park is again under threat. The greensward is being used as overflow parking lot for the Memphis Zoo against the will of the Overton Park Conservancy as well as an organized community coalition who have very publicly voiced their opposition. Over 9000 Memphians have signed petitions or joined various community groups voicing their opposition. There is a massive scar down the middle of the greensward that can clearly be seen from google earth images. To make matters worse, on March 1st, 2016 the Memphis City Council voted overwhelming to give authority over the Greensward for “zoo purposes only.” This vote came in spite of two hours of public comment in opposition as well an ongoing citizen-led parking study to identify parking solutions for all park users.

    Just a sampling of the many facebook groups, websites, and editorial write-ups highlighting the greensward parking issue:

    http://memphiszooparking.com/
    http://www.savethegreensward.org/
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/StopHurtingOvertonPark/
    https://www.overtonpark.org/plan
    https://www.facebook.com/overtonparkforever/
    https://www.memphisdailynews.com/news/2016/mar/5/editorial-greensward-controversy-enters-new-chapter/
    https://www.facebook.com/GreenswardOvertonPark/?fref=ts
    https://tclf.org/landslides/parkland-parking-lot-overton-park-threatened-again

  • Carly

    Overton Park in Memphis. George Kessler designed the Greensward and it’s now being used by The Memphis Zoo for overflow parking.

  • Doug

    Baltimore’s Penn Station: There is a big parking lot to the north. Approximately 700-800 cars can fit into this lot. This station serves light rail, MARC train, and Amtrak passengers

  • SuperQ

    Obvious troll is obvious.

  • EcoAdvocate

    more space for cars will ease congestion! why hadn’t the engineers thought of that! Now congestion is solved everywhere, happy day!
    If someone were to be throwing quarters at you and you ask them to stop, you know, ’cause they kinda hurt, doesn’t mean you hate money, you’re anti-money, you never want any money, wish to ban all money.
    MAKING STREETS SAFER DOESN’T MEAN BANNING ALL CARS.
    There’s some truth for you, Sojourner. Troll is fed!

  • Brandon

    Most of metro Detroit could be nominated. Twelve Oaks isn’t any better.
    The of course there is downtown which still has a lot of “empty” lots used for parking.

  • Bernard Finucane
  • It
    is unfortunate that prime downtown land is used as surface parking.
    These empty spaces are like missing teeth in somebody’s smile. They
    represent lost opportunities for housing and employment. But worst of
    all, the traditional property tax encourages the misuse and
    under-utilization of urban land. Owners who construct, improve and
    maintain buildings are punished with higher taxes while those who allow
    buildings to deteriorate are rewarded with lower taxes. Owners of
    boarded-up buildings, surface parking and vacant lots pay much less tax
    than their more responsible neighbors – even though their property
    receives identical benefits from public infrastructure.

    The
    good news is that some communities have turned this upside-down
    property tax right-side up by reducing the tax rate applied to
    privately-created building values while increasing the tax rate applied
    to publicly-created land values. The lower tax on buildings makes them
    cheaper to construct, improve and maintain. This is good for residents
    and businesses alike. Surprisingly, the higher tax on land value helps
    keep land more affordable as well by reducing the profits from land
    speculation and thereby reducing the speculative demand for land.

    And,
    as an added benefit, this reform creates an economic incentive to
    develop vacant, high-value sites. These tend to be infill sites in
    downtowns near urban infrastructure amenities like transit — and these
    are the very places where we want development to occur in order to
    maximize benefits from existing infrastructure while avoiding premature
    urbanization of outlying areas that are more appropriate for
    agriculture, conservation and recreation.

    For more info, see “Funding Infrastructure to Rebuild Equitable Green Prosperity” at http://revitalizationnews.com/…/funding-infrastructure…/ .

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