From the Texas Panhandle to the Bay Area, from the shores of the Detroit River to the Gulf Coast of Florida — America’s cities are a pockmarked mess, blighted by asphalt parking expanses you can practically see from space.
Streetsblog readers submitted two dozen horrendous parking craters for consideration in this year’s Parking Madness tournament, and the editors picked 16 to vie for your vote as the worst of the bunch.
It was a competitive tournament, with many matches decided by just a handful of votes. In the end, no parking atrocity could beat the waterfront in downtown Camden, New Jersey, for all-around dreadfulness in the eyes of our voters:
Even hollowed-out Parkersburg, West Virginia — with a name that seemed destined for victory in this contest — fell short in the championship match. Camden emerged from the final poll with a 15-vote margin to claim the third annual Golden Crater title, joining Tulsa and Rochester.
Readers were swayed by two big factors in addition to the sheer size of Camden’s parking crater: the waste of waterfront space and the proximity to transit linking the area to neighboring Philadelphia, right across the river.
It also helped that Camden had a contingent of locals cheering it on, hoping that Parking Madness infamy will lead to positive changes. Joseph Russell described Camden’s parking crater this way when nominating it for the tournament:
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.
And here’s what Russell told us after Camden won: