Parking Madness: New York City vs. Wilkes-Barre

If there’s one thing to take away from Parking Madness, it’s that surface parking disasters have struck cities great and small, victimizing boomtowns and economically struggling places alike. Nowhere is immune.

Yesterday the parking lots around the Cotton Bowl propelled Dallas over the downtown Duluth waterfront. Today we have a David vs. Goliath pairing with Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, taking on New York City.


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Reader Brian Ferry nominated these pockmarked blocks near downtown and the city’s riverfront. “It’s no coincidence that several buildings in this area are now abandoned,” he says.

Those abandoned buildings include the Irem Temple (the light roof in the bottom center), a gorgeous historic building that was originally a meeting place for the Shriners fraternal organization; the Spring Brook Water Company across the parking lot to the left of the temple; and the Hotel Sterling Annex in the top left.

Well, at least locals can’t blame the vacancy issue on a lack of parking. Just kidding, people can blame anything on “the lack of parking,” even if parking is devouring downtown.

New York City

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The Bay Plaza Shopping Center is sandwiched between two highways in the northeast Bronx, south of Co-op City, the enormous 1960s-era housing complex. Our anonymous submitter puts this crater in “the ‘places near NYC that should really know better’ category.”

New York really should know better, but just a short distance from this site, another parking crater is in the works next to a new commuter rail station.

Pick your poison, readers.

Which city has the worst parking crater?

  • Wilkes-Barre (60%, 120 Votes)
  • New York City (40%, 79 Votes)

Total Voters: 199


21 thoughts on Parking Madness: New York City vs. Wilkes-Barre

  1. I get that the NYC one could be a better TOD, but it doesn’t seem to match the concept of a parking crater – a hollowed out historic district. Sidenote- This site used to be an amusement park in the 50s and 60s called (no joke) “Freedomland U.S.A.”

  2. Sorry if I’m late to the party on this one, but the block at Jay Street and York in Dumbo shouts out at me on the Manhattan Bridge bike path every day. Don’t know if it’s connected to the NYCHA accommodation.

  3. Voted for NYC, because this sea of parking is across the street from Co-Op City where over 100,000 people live. Because of the huge expanse of Parking lots; no one is walks to the shopping. They drive the 600 feet.

  4. Bruckner Plaza, in the southeast Bronx along the Bruckner Expressway, is yet another out of place parking crater comparable to Co-op City. The Bronx overall isn’t bad though, Queens and SI are worse. Brooklyn to a lesser extent. Even Co-op City is largely walkable.

    Wilkes-Barre is substantially worse.

  5. People do walk and that’s the sad part. Even more common though is taking the bus there, and the buses are always stuck in traffic in Co-op City.

  6. As I said in the nominating thread, I looked up the NYC one up on Google Maps and it’s not that close to a subway line. NYC should know better but it’s also not THAT surprising that this happens in the pockets of the city that aren’t as well served by transit.

  7. “Craters” should only be awarded to places that once served as the “heart” of a city and were ripped out in service of the parking gods. AFAIK, the northeast Bronx was always suburban and Bay Plaza is just a green-field suburban development. It should not qualify for a “crater” nomination.

    I vote Wilkes-Barre.

  8. That Bay Plaza lot seems hardly impresses me next to the massive, uninterrupted sea of parking that Moses provided at nearby Orchard Beach.

  9. Gotta go with Wilkes-Barre here. Malls and highways are horrible, but New York City is still New York City, just a few blocks away. Wilkes-Barre appears to have given up a large chunk of its livability and urbanity in favor of motorist convenience, not anticipating the very real possibility that those same motorists might just keep on driving, thereby leaving them with no advantage whatsoever as a result of the destruction.

  10. It’s not a parking crater but I think the bigger general sin in NYC, at least in Manhattan (maybe in the other boroughs too, but I’m more familiar with Manhattan) is that the FDR Drive and West Side Highway make it a lot more of a hassle to get to the waterfront. One of the reasons there’s way more streets than avenues on the grid is because it was assumed people would want to walk to the water, which was significantly easier before those highways went up.

  11. Yah, that’s the worst. I’d vote for East River Plaza in Harlem even though it’s a parking garage as opposed to a crater. The garage itself is set up in a way to discourage foot traffic.

  12. East Harlem Plaza ?

    That One Is so tragic.

    I shop at the Target there sometimes.

    The shopping center is 1 mile Radius from perhaps 150,000 people. 2 mile Radius from 250,000 people. 3 mile radius from 700,000 people.

    Directly connected to the 1st Ave, 2nd Ave, and East River Protected Bike Lanes.

    A bike rack for a paltry 6 bikes and a massive parking garage for maybe 750 cars.

    People drive there from 5 blocks away. It’s tragic to see people drive these clapped out beat up cars they can barely afford to own, drive to save a couple of bucks at a discount store.

    the ratio of car soace to bike space should be perhaps 1:2. There should be perhaps 200 car spaces and 600 bike spaces.

    The walking path to the store could be a pleasent Joy with River views and hints of the park 1 block south. Instead the walking experience is akin to entering a besieged fortress: walls of dark concrete, secret passage ways and thick opaque walls.

  13. FDR and Henry Hudson Parkway reprsent tremendous opportunities for the longer term future 🙂

    SF removed the elevated Embarcadaro Freeway and as a result generated trillions in economic activity. This is the model for the FDR

    Buffalo is removing the Robert Moses Parkway along its riverfront which runs through a urban park. This is the model for the Henry Hudson Parkway

  14. You have a downtown and two college campuses (Kings and Wilkes) in close proximity to one another, yet you still have a parking crater. Welcome to Wilkes-Barre.

  15. This is a dumb candidate for New York. A busy and well-functioning mall with structured parking is hardly a parking crater. It’s no one’s idea of idyllic, but remember this is former scrub land that was once an amusement park and was never an urban main street area.

  16. cycling is decent

    easy up the 1st Ave bike lane
    down on East River

    I load up the bike every few months with cheap household staples: soap, etc

    It is so tragic to see the missed opportunity.

  17. And Leif Erickson , which is part of Moses’s Belt Parkway doesn’t do anything except separate the city from the sea.

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