Skip to content

Posts from the Parking Madness 2015 Category


How to Repair a Parking Crater in Three Steps

Parkersburg, West Virginia, our second-place finisher in Parking Madness was parking guru Donald Shoup's top choice for worst parking crater.

Parkersburg, West Virginia, the runner-up in Parking Madness 2015, was Donald Shoup’s choice for worst parking crater.

[Before we started up the bracket for this year’s Parking Madness tournament, I got in touch with Donald Shoup, who literally wrote the book on parking reform, and asked him to pick the worst parking crater in the field of 16. Here’s his response, packaged with some advice for cities that have a parking crater problem. — Angie Schmitt]

All the entries deserve a prize, but I have to choose Parkersburg [above] as the worst crater, for several reasons. First, of course, is the city’s name. Second, Parkersburg has parking structures surrounded by surface parking lots. Third, parking lots separate the city from a beautiful river. And fourth, Elliott Lewis clearly explained why Parkersburg’s parking crater is so awful.

Other nominators also wrote superb indictments of their cities, including Marshall Allen for Syracuse, Bill Basford for Waterville, and Nick Sortland for Amarillo.

The upside of these obscene craters is that we have immense areas of vacant land ready for redevelopment right where people want to live and work. If cities remove their minimum parking requirements, these parking craters can become exciting parts of a healthy downtown. The four images below suggest the possible improvements.

This first photo shows an office building in San Jose, surrounded by all its required parking:

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 12.28.43 PM

The building is as big as the city will allow, given the number of parking spaces provided. Suppose San Jose removes its minimum parking requirements, so some empty spaces on the perimeter of the parking lot can be used for housing.

The below image illustrates the first stage of what could happen if cities un-require off-street parking requirements:

Read more…


Camden’s Waterfront Abyss Wins the 2015 Golden Crater


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:

Read more…


The 2015 Parking Madness Championship! Camden vs. Parkersburg

Welcome to the World Series of asphalt. The Super Bowl of lifeless city blocks. Today is the Parking Madness championship — the culmination of our 16-city tournament showcasing the worst parking craters to scar America’s downtowns.

Are you excited? We are!

Streetsblog readers have winnowed the field down to two of the finest examples of poor urban land use you can find. When every level of government spends year after year prioritizing the movement and storage of cars, this is what you end up with.

Now there’s just one more vote to determine which city deserves the Golden Crater and the shame that comes with it (change-inducing shame, hopefully). Voting wraps up at 2 p.m. Eastern time tomorrow, and we’ll conclude this year’s tournament with commentary from special guest — drumroll, please — Donald Shoup!



Camden squashed Mobile, Detroit, and Fort Worth in earlier rounds to reach the championship match. Joseph Russell nominated this parking crater. He explains:

Read more…


Parking Madness Final Four: Syracuse vs. Parkersburg

Only the ugliest, most wasteful parking craters are still in the running, as the Parking Madness Final Four winnows down to two finalists after this match. The winner will take on Camden, which narrowly defeated Fort Worth, for a chance at the Golden Crater, eternal shame, and, we hope, some good awareness-raising opportunities for local advocates.

So far your voting has brought Syracuse head-to-head against Parkersburg, West Virginia. Who gets to advance to the championship match?


Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 3.27.46 PM

This malignant growth catapulted Syracuse over Asheville and Newport News, Virginia, in the first and second rounds. Marshall Allen says of this space:

Read more…


Parking Madness Final Four: Camden vs. Fort Worth

We started this Parking Madness tournament with 16 soulless parking craters from California to New Jersey, and you’ve narrowed it down to the Final Four: Camden, Fort Worth, Syracuse, and the very aptly-named Parkersburg, West Virginia.

Today and tomorrow your votes will determine who gets a shot at the title and Streetsblog’s coveted Golden Crater.



Joseph Russell nominated this eyesore on Camden’s waterfront, which crushed the competition from Mobile in round one and Detroit in round two. Here’s how Russell explains the problem:

Read more…


Parking Madness Elite Eight: Parkersburg vs. Amarillo

There’s just one spot left in the Final Four of Parking Madness, and it’s going either to Parkersburg, West Virginia, or Amarillo, Texas.

Gaze upon on these sad city spaces and despair. Then vote to decide who should stay in the running for the Golden Crater.

Parkersburg, West Virginia

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 3.02.42 PM

This small Appalachian city overcame a parking wasteland by the Boston waterfront in the last round. Submitter Elliott Lewis says of this area of Parkersburg:

Read more…


Parking Madness 2015 Elite Eight: Tampa vs. Fort Worth

It’s almost a shame that these two titans are meeting in the second round of the Parking Madness tournament, because both Tampa and Fort Worth look like they have champion potential.

Yesterday, Syracuse knocked off Newport News, Virginia, to join Camden in the Final Four. Now it’s up to you to decide who gets the third slot.



This crater advanced past Waterville, Maine in round one. Submitter Joshua Redman wrote:

Read more…


Parking Madness 2015 Elite Eight: Newport News vs. Syracuse

Yesterday, Camden knocked off Detroit in Parking Madness, giving the Garden State the first spot in our Final Four.

Today’s match pairs up dreadful parking expanses in Newport News and Syracuse, and it’s up to you to tell us which is the worst.


Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 3.27.46 PM

That right there is the picture that put Syracuse over the top in its first-round matchup with Asheville. Marshall Allen sent us this entry. He wrote:

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.

Let’s compare it to a a historical photo, graciously provided by the University of Oklahoma Institute for Quality CommunitiesShane Hampton:

Read more…


Parking Madness 2015 Elite Eight: Detroit vs. Camden

Today it’s on to round two in Parking Madness, our hunt for the worst parking crater in an American town. Our first Elite Eight matchup features two cities struggling to rebuild in the wake of some serious urban disinvestment, and these parking craters certainly aren’t helping. It’s Camden vs. Detroit.


Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 3.04.34 PM

The above image, submitted by reader Luke Klipp, is what carried Detroit over the California suburb of Walnut Creek in the first round. Klipp explains this area is right next to the Renaissance Center, where General Motors is headquartered. Klipp said:
Detroit’s waterfront is really sad when compared to its Canadian neighbor across the river, Windsor, whose waterfront is three miles of uninterrupted parkway. By comparison, Detroit has a couple parks near the Renaissance Center and then lots of parking right up to the waterfront.

Thanks to the talented Shane Hampton of the University of Oklahoma’s Institute for Quality Communities, we have historical photos to compare this area to what used to be.

Check it out:


This photo is from 1951. It looks like the area was already becoming a bit pockmarked. Detroit, being the birthplace of the American auto industry, may have been an early parking crater adapter.

Let’s look at the competition:

Read more…


Parking Madness 2015: Fort Worth vs. Boise

There’s just one spot remaining in the Elite Eight of this year’s Parking Madness bracket. And it’s either going to Fort Worth or Boise. Without further ado, here are the final parking craters in the 2015 tournament.

Fort Worth


This eyesore was submitted by an anonymous commenter, who wrote:

Read more…