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:

This photograph, submitted by Joseph Russell, lifted Camden over Mobile, Alabama, in the first round. Russell said of the space:

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.

Let’s see what this area looked like back in 1959:


Hmm interesting. Looks like it was a train yard.

Which one of these waterfront embarrassments deserves to make the Final Four? Let us know below:

Which city has the worst parking crater?

  • Camden (55%, 153 Votes)
  • Detroit (45%, 124 Votes)

Total Voters: 276

21 thoughts on Parking Madness 2015 Elite Eight: Detroit vs. Camden

  1. Anyone else notice that four of the buildings in the Detroit shot are parking garages? So, parking garages surrounded by surface parking. Seems like a winning strategy to me.

  2. There is another large surface parking lot or two, just out of view of the Camden photo, adjacent to Broadway PATCO / Walter Rand Transportation Center, between there and Camden’s City Hall (which is a really beautiful building).

    There’s also a tragically out of place, suburban-style ‘drive-thru’ CVS on the other side of the light rail station, with, naturally, yet another surface parking lot of its own.

    Speaking of Camden, I could really go for a Donkey’s Steak right now…

  3. From mid-19th century you could ferry from Philadelphia across the Delaware River to Camden and take the train to Atlantic City or Cape May

  4. You can still take the train from Philadelphia to Atlantic City, and NJTransit finally connected River Line light rail (Trenton to Camden) to the Atlantic City line in Pennsauken, just north of Camden, a year and a half ago.

    A train to Cape May today would certainly be really nice anymore. Also, getting to Asbury Park without having to go all the way up to Rahway or Newark to switch lines first. I can dream…

  5. Yes, Camden. The offer of NEGATIVE $200,000 for the building really takes the cake. Some chutz-pah!

  6. Dalessandro’s just ain’t the same as it used to be. Props to Joe’s in Tacony (and soon to open a second location in Fishtown) for changing its name, so I can now recommend it as far and away the best steak in the city. Donkey’s is just in a league of its own, though. It excels beyond the category of cheesesteaks. It is a sandwich that every American needs to eat at least once in their lifetime.

  7. Whats really egregious about all those empty parking lots in Camden are the spectacular views of the Philly skyline across the Delaware. Those Detroit parking lots ain’t got much to look at!!! Also the Camden lots have perfect-by-design access to NJ TRANSIT RiverLINE and PATCO rail!

  8. Camden was making a run, and had pulled to within two votes a couple hours ago, but it looks like Detroit’s pulling away now. Perhaps a concerted, conspiratorial effort!

    I’ll admit to some ‘hometown’ (well, another city across the river in another state, but still…) bias, but what you note should definitely swing things in Camden’s ‘favor.’

    Detroit’s crater could at best be a riverfront park with views of a decent-sized Canadian city.

    Camden’s sprawling crater, on the other hand, is centered right upon a 24-hour rapid transit system (PATCO), directly across the river from one of America’s great cities, with breathtaking skyline views, and should be much more than a dozen blocks of surface parking, to say the least…

  9. Oh I agree. And more people might be hearing about Donkeys soon. Did you hear that Anthony Bourdain’s show CNN show Parts Unknown was filming there a few months ago?

  10. Both of these were train yards and industrial areas, so the parking lots came about almost naturally as those uses disappeared. But Detroit still gets the nod for its awfulness.

  11. Hey, lay off the Canuck-bashing. It’s actually quite a nice view across to Windsor.

    (Disqus messes up the preview, but cut and paste this – “”)

  12. The rail yard in Camden was the terminus for the Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore line. The ferry, which I rode as a child, ran from the foot of Market St. in Philadelphia to Camden where one took the train to the “shore.” Just imagine what could happen to this area if ferry service, or water taxi, were developed.

  13. The DRPA sold the ferry to Cooper’s Ferry earlier this year, and I think they’ve got some water-taxy-like ideas in mind. Apparently the ferry is pretty well-used in summer with the concerts, which is great.

  14. Wow, Detroit, the city with the most parking craters I have ever seen, is beaten two years in a roll with their two largest craters by smaller craters. Good thing Fort Worth will win this thing.

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