Seeking Submissions: The Worst Parking Crater in an American Downtown

Alright, Streetsblog readers. Send us your best shots.

After running our “worst intersection in America” photo contest, we heard from readers who want to see “more public shaming” of terrible transportation and planning blunders around the country. We aim to please. So here is the next contest: Where is the worst sea of downtown surface parking in America?

We’re looking for aerial photos, and once we’ve got a sizable sample, we’ll put it up for a vote. The competition should be fierce.

We’ve already held Cleveland’s formidable Warehouse District up to the spotlight:

Is this as bad as it gets? First we need submissions from our readers. Then it will be up to you guys to decide.

Send your entries to Angie [at] or tweet us at @streetsblogNET. Let the race to the bottom begin.

  • Dedwards8

    Downtown ATL:

  • Zach Shaner

    Northern edge of downtown Denver…

  • Former Clevelander

    The Russians could hardly have done a better job had they dropped a small nuclear bomb on Downtown Cleveland. Thank goodness we built all of those interstate highways for national security purposes. 

  • Downtown San Diego’s waterfront area

  • Chicago: Our stadiums. Talk about how to kill a neighborhood. 

    United Center, where the Bulls and Blackhawks play
    U.S. Cellular Field, where the White Sox play

  • Streetsman

    Perhaps it doesn’t count because it’s finally being redeveloped (or perhaps it counts MORE as an example of a good outcome) but the lots at the intersection of Delancey and Suffolk in NYC have always been a sore spot for me:

  • tuffguy
  • Somebody drew squares around the surface parking of several cities here

    Here are some of those showing percentage given to surface parking

  • Jeff

    WW2-era car culture and planning did more long-term damage to American cities than WW2 itself did to European cities.  Not to trivialize the deaths, but with respect to the physical structure of the cities, at least Europe rebuilt…

  • Anonymous

    If you are going to make “seeking submissions” into a recurrent theme, I would love to see more examples like the one you recently posted of the two houses that shared a backyard but were separated by many miles of roads.

  • Eric H

    Don’t forget the University of Illinois at Chicago.

  •  I think we might. That would be a good one.

  • UIC is aware of that issue and has addressed it in their Campus Master Plan. That’s why I didn’t suggest them, but yeah, they are an offender.

  • Downtown Houston:

  • If you do a follow up post on freeways, I submit the West End in Cincinnati. 

  • Axelj

    I’d like to submit this spot in houston, a light rail stop surrounded by blocks of parking on all sides.

  • Anonymous

     Wow, that is amazing. I don’t know how urban planner can’t see them contradicting themselves by trying to make light-rail effective but then surrounding it with block after block of parking.

  • Neeters

    Stevenson/Duboce parking lots.  Horrible blight under the freeway.  Yet the City is reneging on turning it into green space by building-you guessed it-another parking lot!!

  • Anonymous

    To be fair, almost every major stadium built in the last 30-40 years killed any semblance of a neighborhood.

  • At U.S. Cellular, the silver lining is plenty of pedal cabs are hired to take people the mile from the stadium to the bars on Halsted. Are there upsides to any of these other craters?

  • Beats me. There are a lot of pedicabs at United Center, too. United Center parking traffic messes you up if you’re trying to use Damen or Ashland.

  • Anonymous

    The Borg Cube.

  • Mcass777

    To be fair, have you been to Baltimore Camden Yards? Miami Marlins Park? Pittsburgh PNC Field? San Francisco ATT Park? Seattle SafeCo Field? Denver Coors Field? San Diego Petco Park? Minneapolis Target Field? Washington Nationals Park? Detroit Comerica Field? 

    All these have been built with the city, pedestrian, auto, entertainment, team, and even green technology incorporated into the planning and execution. Imagine Wrigley field with closed off streets, bike and public transportation only access, big bathrooms using non potable water, solar panels, recycling, neighborhood inclusion, even great restaurants and pubs. These were all built with tax and private funds, created jobs, and add entertainment taxes at every event. Please refrain from making blanket statements without at least checking the interweb. 

  • Kwyrauch

    My vote goes to the vast expanse of nothing in-between the Civic Center and Bunker Hill in downtown LA.

  • Justin Nelson

    It’s kind of cheating, but Rancho Cucamonga, CA tried to build a downtown in the form of a “lifestyle center” called Victoria Gardens. The very inner bit of it is this walkable faux-Main Street (that they even call Mainstreet– no spaces), but the outside parking lots go for over 1/2 a mile.

    If you’re looking for a city that started *as a city* and got hollowed out, I’m guessing old Central Valley agricultural centers would probably fit the bill. Bakersfield, Fresno, Stockton…

  • Greggzuk

    Great juxtaposition between local policy makers tending to local infrastructure issues and federal policy makers tending to local infrastructure issues; to wit: early 20th century infrastructure working with barges, ships, rail, and the like and early 21st century infrastructure working with, well, not much except some motor vehicles. Shift infrastructure spending and they will disappear…

  • Gary

    I was going to suggest Tampa, FL but I think some of these others have it beat. Tampa may beat them on empty lots that it’s not even worth putting parking into, though.

  • Victoria Gardens:

    I think Ontario Mills is even worse. At least in Victoria Gardens, the intention was to park the cars and walk.

  • Kong

    Another crater in Minneapolis: The Metrodome, AKA the monster that blocks any connection between downtown from the Mississippi. Way worse than Target Field.


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