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Posts from the "Parking Madness" Category

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How Denver Repaired Its Epic Parking Crater

Downtown Denver June 1976. Image: Nick DeWolf via Flickr

The above photo is downtown Denver in 1976.

Not pretty is it? But Denver doesn’t look like that anymore. And that’s no accident.

Even though that picture is what inspired Streetsblog’s Parking Madness competition, Denver didn’t even make it past the first round in our hunt for the worst parking crater in an American downtown.

This is what this part of Denver looks like today:

For reference, point A on the map shows the Daniels and Fisher Tower, the tall spire you can see on the edge of the parking expanse in the 1976 photo.

In the 1990s, in response to the creeping cancer of surface parking, the Mile High City took action. The city changed its downtown zoning to eliminate surface parking as a use by right. So if you owned a building, you were welcome to tear it down, but you couldn’t park cars on the lot. All existing parking lots were grandfathered in.

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Parking Madness Champion Tulsa Moves to Limit Surface Parking Downtown

Tulsa ran away with the "Golden Crater" award in our Parking Madness competition. Now local leaders are taking steps to help build a healthier balance for the city's downtown. Image: Google Maps

Just last month, we were shaming Tulsa, Oklahoma, with our “Golden Crater” award for the downtown most riddled with surface parking lots. But today, we applaud the city for taking steps to reverse the plague of excess parking.

Tulsa World reported Friday that our Parking Madness competition winner is moving forward with a ban on new surface parking lots. The Tulsa City Council has extended a temporary moratorium on new surface parking through September. Between now and then, Tulsa will be working to prepare permanent changes to the city’s zoning code that will help contain the tide of surface parking lots and, hopefully, set the stage for some redevelopment.

The legislation is being championed by City Councilman Blake Ewing, who gave a shout out to Streetsblog in his remarks to the newspaper.

“Ewing pointed to a recent online contest by a nonprofit transportation advocacy publication in which Tulsa was named the worst city in the country for parking craters’ — areas of historic downtowns that have been bulldozed for surface parking,” wrote Tulsa World reporter Zack Stoykoff.

Tulsa is in the early stages of the same program the city of Denver took on to repair its woeful surface parking lot problem two decades ago. We’ll be featuring a story about that city’s dramatic reversal later today.

We’re proud that, by shining a light on the damage caused by Tulsa’s excess parking, Streetsblog was able to help catalyze change. Whether by highlighting best practices or worst practices, we’re thrilled when we can inspire cities to re-think their priorities and plan for a more sustainable future.

If this kind of reporting makes you proud too, make a donation today. We rely on donations from our readers to make this kind of thing possible.

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In a Landslide, Tulsa Wins the Parking Madness “Golden Crater” Award

Streetsblog readers have spoken — and they have annointed Tulsa, Oklahoma, as the champion of Parking Madness, our hunt for the worst parking crater in an American downtown.

The final match was a total blowout, with Tulsa stomping Milwaukee in our poll, 483 to 124. In the end, no other downtown could compare to the parking devastation on the south side of Tulsa. And so we award Tulsa Streetsblog’s first “Golden Crater” award.

Here’s one more look at the part of downtown that carried Tulsa through it all:

But the point of this contest isn’t just to single out Tulsa — it’s to help provoke change. In that spirit we wanted to share a redevelopment plan for this area submitted by Tulsa native Kevin Adams, who completed the project while working toward a master’s degree in urban planning at Clemson University in 2010. His plan [PDF] involves redeveloping the south side of Tulsa’s downtown as a reimagined “Cathedral Square,” a name sometimes given to the area in recognition of its beautiful historic churches.

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It’s Tulsa vs. Milwaukee in the Parking Madness Championship!

This is it — the final, epic showdown of Parking Madness. We started with 16 reader-submitted contenders for the title of America’s Worst Parking Crater, and Milwaukee and Tulsa have emerged from three rounds of voting to face off in the championship.

Only one will be immortalized and receive the “Golden Crater,” Streetsblog’s prize for asphalt expanses run amok.

It’s up to you to decide who claims the title, based on the incriminating evidence we’ve compiled below. So let’s get acquainted (or reacquainted, as the case may be) with these two examples of parking devastation:

Downtown Tulsa has been a favorite from the start because of the sheer surface area devoted to parking. Stephen Lassiter of BikeWalkTulsa submitted this photo and told us that “the southern half of downtown is almost entirely surface parking,” as you can see below:

Lassiter also sent along photos showing this part of Tulsa in 1978 versus 2005.

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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:

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Final Four Parking Madness Matchup: Milwaukee vs. Dallas

We’re down to just four cities: Milwaukee, Dallas, Houston, and Tulsa. But only one can be the champion of Parking Madness, our hunt for the worst parking crater in an American downtown.

Today is a very exciting day, because we’re kicking off the Final Four with two venerable parking competitors: Milwaukee and Dallas.

Milwaukee has been holding strong through two contests — thanks, presumably, to the sheer expanse of its parking crater.

Reader “Aaron from Milwaukee” submitted this area, saying “the desert covers about a half mile south of I-794 to the Milwaukee River, and east of Milwaukee Street.”

This wasteland is part of Milwaukee’s Third Ward, not far from the lakefront. “It’s acres of parking over the former bustling wholesale food warehouse district, mostly serving eight or nine weekends and 10 full days each year associated with Summerfest and Milwaukee’s various ethnic ‘-fests,’” Aaron says.

Here’s a panned out view that shows this parking travesty’s position between the Third Ward and the lakefront.

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“Elite Eight” Parking Madness: Tulsa vs. Cleveland

This is it: our last Parking Madness match-up before the Final Four. And it’s going to be a good one.

From the beginning, the two cities facing off today — Cleveland, Ohio, and Tulsa, Oklahoma — both seemed to me like solid contenders to make the final rounds.

Without further ado, let’s examine Tulsa:

This photo came from Stephen Lassiter of Bike Walk Tulsa, who told us that “the southern half of downtown is almost entirely surface parking.”

Pull back the lens and you can see what he’s talking about:

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The “Elite Eight” of Parking Madness: Milwaukee vs. Columbia

So far, Texas is really dominating our Parking Madness tournament. The two Final Four spots awarded so far have gone to Lone Star heavyweights Dallas and Houston. We might have an all-Texas final.

But there are still two remaining spots in the Final Four of terrible downtown parking craters. One of those spots is going to go to either Milwaukee or Columbia, South Carolina — today’s Elite Eight match-up.

Let’s refresh ourselves with the Milwaukee parking crater:

Submitted by reader Aaron from Milwaukee, this one is not a crater so much as a lunar landscape bereft of human life forms.

The area is between Milwaukee’s Third Ward — a rather hip area — and the lakefront. Aaron tells us they occasionally hold summer festivals on part of this lot — so a few times a year, at least, this place has people in it. One thing’s for sure, though: parking lots so close to the waterfront are even sadder then regular parking lots.

Here’s a wider view where you can see the parking/freeway complex divide the Third Ward from the lake:

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“Elite Eight” Parking Madness: Louisville vs. Houston

NCAA basketball has nothing on the drama, the intrigue, the heartbreak of a competitive parking crater tournament. We’re now into the “Elite Eight” round of Parking Madness, and today’s winner will join Dallas in the Final Four. It’s going to be a fierce competition between Louisville and Houston.

Louisville’s downtown, you’ll recall, looks like this:

This entry was submitted by Patrick Smith (@cityresearch on Twitter). Note that the grey boxes are buildings that haven’t been uploaded yet to Google Earth. Local urbanists conservatively estimate that at least one-third of downtown Louisville’s land area is occupied by parking.

Now southward to this anonymously-submitted Houston parking crater:

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The “Elite Eight” of Parking Madness: Atlanta vs. Dallas

Okay, the preliminary stuff is over. It’s round two of Parking Madness — our hunt for the worst parking crater in an American downtown. By the end of this week, we’ll be ready down to the Final Four. But first things first: Atlanta takes on Dallas in our first Elite Eight match-up.

As a refresher, we’ll post the photos and descriptions we showed in the first round.

This is the picture that helped Atlanta beat Denver in the first round:

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