Parking Madness: Detroit vs. Atlanta


Yesterday, Chicago’s United Center parking lots bested Denver’s Court Place parking crater in the first match-up of Parking Madness 2014. Today, two heavyweights are facing off: It’s the motor city versus sprawl city in a bare-knuckle brawl of car infrastructure run amok.

Without further ado, here’s the Detroit entry. Warning: This could get ugly.


This picture really needs no further elaboration. Submitter Gerald Fittipaldi says these lots are only used infrequently, during sporting events, and that there’s potential here for mixed-use development.

On to Atlanta:


This area of downtown Atlanta is known as “the Gulch,” which is a pretty good name for a parking crater, come to think of it. The entire site is more or less surrounded by elevated roads. It used to be a rail yard, but is now awaiting a big development project.

The choice is yours. Which is more horrible? Cast your votes below.

Which city has the worst parking crater?

  • Detroit (86%, 317 Votes)
  • Atlanta (16%, 60 Votes)

Total Voters: 367

19 thoughts on Parking Madness: Detroit vs. Atlanta

  1. Wow that Detroit one. Yeah I know, people dont like beating on Detroit that much anymore, but that really is a lot of blocks completely cleared of buildings.


  2. At least Atlanta’s Gulch is not the product of blocks of city buildings being cleared. There was a passenger train station and more freight infrastructure here, along with the existing rail lines just out of view to the left of this photo. After intercity & interstate passenger rail declined in the mid 20th century, this became dead space that got paved over.

    The project slated to go here, by the way, is the MultiModal Passenger Terminal for the various bus lines that serve Downtown, plus connection to a MARTA rail station (to the right) and any future HSR that gets built. Here’s what it’ll look like:

  3. Sadly, Detroit has been hollowed out. It is the epitomy of what would happen to every American city if the automobile industry had achieved everything it wanted to in requiring cities to completely redesign themselves to suit only one form of transportation. It’s so sad to see that.

  4. I remember seeing an aerial picture of Hiroshima at the end of WW2 which looked eerily similar to that picture of Detroit…

  5. Detroit, with its non-existent economy and general ghost-town feel, at least has an excuse for not building on those parking lots.

  6. Atlanta has perhaps the worst situation for Amtrak of any city in the South. The Amtrak buses that bring riders to catch the train don’t even have a parking place. The passenger trains stop on the freight roads main line while loading and unloading. There’s no way to switch railcars within a dozen miles. (Amtrak could save money by dropping off a couple of cars southbound and picking them up northbound; the passenger loads are so much lighter going to New Orleans that some cars are almost empty and fuel is wasted hauling them down the road).

    So in conclusion, I don’t believe anything anybody in Georgia says about including trains in anything anywhere. You got pretty pictures and the rest is empty wind.

  7. And I forgot to say that the Atlanta Amtrak station is in the far north of the city, and no one is seriously planning to bring it back downtown in our lifetimes. Guess that’s why these sketch of wind refers to HSR, not real here and now trains. Yeah, HSR and Doo Wah Diddy.

  8. I believe it is the Illitch own lots behind Fox theater. Probably the largest parcel of “empty” land in all of its Downtown. Which, by the way, has a hot real estate market right now.

  9. Hi Woody, the Amtrak station is indeed to the north of Downtown in the Buckhead section of the City of Atlanta. The most recent proposal, from a couple of years ago, was to move it a bit west into the Atlantic Station development with a larger new station. I hope that happens — it depends on Amtrak being able to spend the capital for construction.

  10. Hi Woody, it’s true — the MMPT was originally proposed to house a relocated Amtrak as well, but Amtrak took a look at the tracks and decided they couldn’t make it happen.

    So until (or if ever) a HSR line is constructed, the terminal will serve the multiple MARTA bus lines that serve Downtown, GRTA commuter buses, Greyhound (the current Greyhound station is awful and was not meant to be permanent) and Megabus. And it will also connect to a proposed expansion of the Atlanta Streetcar and connect all the above to the adjacent Five Points MARTA rail line, which is built on a viaduct that, as is, has no room for expansion for accommodating buses nicely.

    [Not usually mentioned but still important: the MMPT will also house new parking decks to replace the current surface parking and parking deck combo on the spot, and cover it with a nice green roof.]

    I think it’s a good project even without new rail, personally, though many disagree.

  11. Detroit’s looks worse, particularly because the parking is integrated into the city grid, unlike Atlanta’s which seems separated. However Detroit has little development potential for the time being whereas Atlanta, a growing city, really need to be smart about infill development. My vote is for Atlanta.

  12. I’m going with Detroit. Maybe it’s just the fact that you can still see streets there, that it shows that there USED to be things there, some life, some reason to want to come, but that now whole blocks have been converted into parking, but parking for absolutely nothing as nothing is left in the vicinity.

    It’s like the photo is saying “This used to be a bustling city, now it’s an asphalt desert”.

    Atlanta’s parking, though big, is nothing I haven’t seen before, just bigger. And it doesn’t look that outsized in comparison with the gigantic stadiums nearby. It’s not that it isn’t outsized but… it’s like New York streets which are extremely wide, but they don’t really feel like it because buildings on either side are extremely tall, so it feels like both fit together, but if the boulevards were still wide and there were single-family homes on either side, they would look much more wide because there would be such a clash between the vertical distances and the horizontal distances.

  13. I’ve been in that part of Detroit. It’s the western side of downtown. The picture doesn’t do the area justice. It’s a total wasteland with deteriorating abandoned buildings. I wish someone could just jackhammer the whole area to let the trees and grass take over sooner…

  14. The upper right hand corner is the theater district and right across the street(woodward just out of picture) is Comerica Park and behind that is Ford Field. These lots are still used, but only during concerts, game days or theater shows. But most of the time they are like this.

  15. Amtrak is certainly not going to spend more than a nominal amount on a station in Atlanta; Amtrak has a lot of *more appreciative* places to spend its money. If someone else (say, the city, or a developer) is wllling to put in money, Amtrak will help them out a little.

  16. While I like your sentiment, I don’t think it was the American auto industry’s intention to teeter on bankruptcy back and forth for a few decades

  17. No, that’s exactly the point. Tear apart the city’s vitality and replace it with parking garages and lots, and no real humans go there because there is no reason to.

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