Parking Madness: Los Angeles vs. Dallas

Streetsblog’s own “Sweet 16” of the worst downtown parking craters in America — Parking Madness! — continues today with two cities that grew up in the auto age.

Known for their mega-highways and congestion, Los Angeles and Dallas have the parking scars to go along with all those cars.

An anonymous commenter submitted this entry, calling it “the vast expanse of nothing in-between the Civic Center and Bunker Hill in downtown L.A.”

The Civic Center area is home to Los Angeles’s city, state, and federal government buildings.

Streetsblog LA editor Damien Newton filled in some background on this eyesore:

Located a mere two blocks from City Hall, and basically adjacent to the busy “Civic Center” subway station, this particular lot is a true abomination on the L.A. landscape. While some sanity is coming to Los Angeles’s parking policy, the city has a long way to go. Consider this image, put together by Gehl architects, showing a shocking 545 acres of parking lots within 1 km of the Figueroa Corridor connecting Downtown Los Angeles with South Los Angeles.

The competition, submitted by Streetsblog Network member Systemic Failure, is this depression in Dallas:

Image via ##

A new building — the Perot Museum of Science and History — has actually sprouted up in this parking crater, but it might not actually be much of an improvement to the public realm. James Howard Kunstler singled this area out in his ongoing “Eyesore of the Month” feature, calling it “a wilderness of surface parking, freeway ramps, and pointless ambiguous ‘green spaces.'” The Perot Museum, designed by starchitect Thom Mayne, was no doubt meant to demonstrate Dallas’s civic might.

Which city has the worst parking crater?

  • Dallas (69%, 231 Votes)
  • Los Angeles (34%, 115 Votes)

Total Voters: 334

Winner: Dallas!

Last week, Tulsa triumphed over Philadelphia (which was also disqualified for technical reasons), and Milwaukee mopped the floor with Jersey City.

While the NCAA tournament takes a breather, the action never stops on Streetsblog. Tomorrow’s match-up: Louisville vs. San Diego.

20 thoughts on Parking Madness: Los Angeles vs. Dallas

  1. LA grew up in the auto age? That’s not what I learned from Who Framed Roger Rabbit!

    I’ve visited Dallas. It’s basically one giant parking lot, and you traverse said parking lot via freeways. You’d never know that Dallas has the largest LRT system in the country by route-miles.

    Aided by Kunstler’s never-failing wit, my vote goes for Dallas!

  2. No mention of the monstrosity called the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles? It’s 2,265 seat theatre has 2,188 parking spots — meaning they expect 96% of attendees to drive to the concert by themselves. And, add that each spot cost $50,274.22 of public funding to construct. And ,since they charge $9 a spot for an event, it will only take 5,586 events to pay for the construction of each spot.

  3. Indeed, the one thing LA has going for it is that much of the city proper (and surrounding cities like Santa Monica) grew up in the streetcar age and is relatively dense, with pockets of walkability.

  4. At least the Disney Hall parking lots are mainly hidden out of sight, where they don’t directly destroy the pedestrian streetscape. However, those surface lots in the image above are the streetscape one walks through to get from the Civic Center subway station (visible at the west corner of 1st and Hill) to the hall itself (whose grand staircase is just visible at the upper left corner of the image).

  5. I think the ultimate winner should go head-to-head with the moon’s Tycho crater in a sudden-death overtime match!

  6. It would still be best for the majority of those spots to be eliminated and to convert a large portion to carsharing or a public transit hub. Charge $150/mo per spot and it’ll take far fewer events to pay for construction…

  7. A lot of the lots around DCH are slated for development as the Grand Avenue Project finally gets underway. The other open lot in the picture, between Hill and Broadway, is slated to become a new federal courthouse.

  8. That doesn’t really say very much though—Kunstler considers anything built after about 1850 to be an eyesore.

    He’s done some good things, but when you get right down to it, Kunstler is a more a crank than he is a useful critic…

  9. I t has to be LA because the building is a Civic Center! means that it is supposed to serve citizens yet it is separate from the City ..

  10. This is a tough one. Both Dallas and LA have been working towards parking superiority for decades. But I’m going to have to give it to Dallas for the additional bump that the freeways give to the depressing scene.

  11. Downtown Columbus, Ohio should have been included in this. With over 100 acres of urban renewal, a mote of Interstate Highways, and terrifying fast and wide State Routes instead of streets, it’s more parking lot/highway than downtown.

  12. I believe a good amount of the parking at Disney Hall is used for juror parking on weekdays, so at least it’s well utilized in between concerts. Now, as to whether the court system is paying rent to Disney Hall for those spaces, I have no idea.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Parking Madness: Louisville vs. San Diego

This week we’re really getting into the thick of our Parking Madness tournament, the hunt for the worst parking crater in an American downtown. Today’s match-up features a Kentucky river city that has done a number on its downtown and a California beach city with a weak spot for asphalt: It’s Louisville versus San Diego! […]

Parking Madness 2015: Los Angeles vs. Newport News

Another day, another pair of absolutely terrible urban landscapes. Here’s the second match-up in the Parking Madness 2015 tournament, following yesterday’s drubbing of Mobile by Camden. Today’s competition pits a giant metropolis against a small city on the Mid-Atlantic coast: Los Angeles vs. Newport News, Virginia.   Los Angeles This entry comes to us via an anonymous commenter, who says, […]

The Price of Parking: Let the Free Market Decide?

The Wall Street Journal ran a piece this weekend by Conor Dougherty on the municipal move toward charging more for parking. It’s available online to paid subscribers only, but here’s a taste: As anyone who has ever circled the block for a marginally better spot knows, parking is an American obsession. It occasionally boils over […]

Parking Madness: Newark vs. Dallas

We’re halfway through the first round of the 2014 Parking Madness tournament, with Kansas City, Detroit, Chicago, and Jacksonville having advanced to the next round. Today’s matchup pairs two very different cities with the same problem: parking craters. A reader submitted the following definition yesterday: park-ing cra-ter (noun) is “ugly, and an inefficient use of space in a […]

Parking Madness: Tulsa vs. Philly [Updated]

Parking Madness, our hunt for the worst parking crater in an American downtown, continues today with two formidable contenders. In one corner we have Tulsa: Oklahoma’s second largest city, birthplace of the teen sensation Hanson (mmmBOP!), home to nearly 400,000 people. In the other corner, Philadelphia: cradle of democracy, birthplace of the Fresh Prince, and […]