A Sunday Afternoon in the Land of Parking Craters

Created by David Lindsay, of Memphis
Pointillism simulation by David Lindsey

Ah, a relaxing day at the park — in modern America.

This spoof on Georges Seurat’s iconic painting, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” was produced by Memphis activist David Lindsey. The inspiration: Memphis now directs overflow parking from the Memphis Zoo to the city’s historic Overton Park, despite vigorous local opposition. A pair of lawsuits are currently pending.

Here’s a look at the parking-crater-in-a-park, courtesy of community activist Leigh McCormick.

parking lot

  • User_1

    95% parked should be the next rallying cry. Nice painting btw. I was wondering how that lady in the foreground got to the park. Now we know!

    Cars are parked 95% of the time.

  • davistrain

    There may be a good reason why families use a car to get to the park: Typical transit service is cut way back or even non-existent on Sundays, and taking picnic baskets and other outing supplies on a bus can be a challenge.

  • reasonableexplanation

    Cars being parked 95% of the time just equates to each car driving an average of 72min per day. That… sounds about right, no?

  • reasonableexplanation

    Also, some of the nicest parks are a bit out there in the boonies. Since you know; nature. I really don’t see much wrong with having a big parking lot on the periphery of one of these.

  • Pietro Gambadilegno

    And there might be a good reason why transit service is cut down on Sundays: people all drive their cars rather than taking transit.

  • Pietro Gambadilegno

    And there might be a good reason why the nicest parks are out in the boonies: the land nearer to the city has been paved over with low-density sprawl to accommodate automobiles.

  • reasonableexplanation

    Well, taking what I know best (NY) as an example; we’re a pretty dense town, and we have lots of tiny parks, and a handful of large parks in the city. However, the gigantic state and federal parks out in the boonies (with gigantic parking lots to match) still fill with people (and cars) whenever it’s nice out, because people like nature, and space. And I think there’s nothing wrong with that.

  • User_1

    Yeap that’s what I calculate too. I think even if there was an annual vacation trip worked in, that wouldn’t move things much.

  • Joe R.

    We could have had that right where people live if we had designed our cities differently. Let’s say we want 25K per square mile. Visualize if everyone lives in 150-story towers. Maybe each tower is 250 feet on each side. That’s 60,000 square feet per floor. If half can be used for apartments, with each apartment averaging 2,000 square feet, you can put 15 families per floor, or 60 people. The tower then can hold 9,000 people. You can put commercial stuff in the 5 or 6 stories underground, ensuring that people can mostly shop for necessities in the same building they live in. To arrive at 25,000 per square mile you only need 2.78 towers per square mile. That means each tower can be surrounded by 0.36 square miles of land, or a plot roughly 1000 feet on a side. It could more or less be left in its natural state, perhaps with walking or bike paths. Remember the next tower is surrounded by just as much land, so you essentially have 750 feet, or 3 blocks, between towers (accounting for the width of the tower, and assuming the tower is in the center of the plot). Of course, you can group towers together if you want, having even more land between the groups. The point is you end up with mostly free space. And since the buildings are the only destinations in need of mechanized transport, you can connect them together with a subway which also performs delivery functions. No need to waste 1/3 of the surface space on roads like we current do in cities.

    Granted, this requires essentially starting from scratch, but the point is conceptually you can have lots of natural space right where people live if you put everyone in huge structures. Or going one step further, and this is probably getting into science fiction, you could put those 150 stories underground, essentially leaving everything on the surface in its natural state. This isn’t that far fetched. There are already lighting systems which mimic daylight well enough that people could be perfectly happy in a windowless environment: http://inhabitat.com/brilliant-invention-brings-led-sunshine-to-windowless-rooms/

  • DN

    unfortunately, the big parking lot you are seeing here is not ‘on the periphery’ – the patrons are actually parking – IN / ON – the park where kids play, families have picnics, etc. This is next to the parking lot for the zoo because of overflow. This park is in the midtown Memphis in a very urban area, not in the boonies. Instead of having a big parking lot and paving over paradise, they should consider ‘building up’ and putting in a parking garage where the current zoo lot is now.

  • neroden

    We actually tried “towers in a park”. They don’t work for various reasons. They’re not popular and they have a high crime rate.

    What you want is something a lot more like Central Park.

  • Joe R.

    I’ve never seen them done as I described. The concept failed because in most cases the “park” was more a barren, windswept plaza with a handful of trees. It wasn’t a park in the true sense where you might play ball, ride a bike, walk, commune with nature, and so forth.

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