Parking Madness Final Four: Atlanta vs. Denver


We’ve whittled a field of 16 parking craters next to transit stations down to the Final Four in Parking Madness 2017.

The winner of today’s match will go up against whoever emerges from the contest between Medford and Poughkeepsie, which are still duking it out (you can vote until 2 p.m. Thursday).

This semi-final pits central areas in two major American cities against each other. Only one will have a shot at everlasting shame in the championship match.

Atlanta — Luckie Street and Centennial Olympic Park Drive


Reader Michelle Rushing sent us this view of the parking around three Atlanta streetcar stops (the purple stars). Surface parking is outlined in orange, and parking garages are outlined in blue. This entry beat craters in San Bernardino and Little Rock in earlier rounds of competition.

Not surprisingly, a short, mixed-traffic streetcar winding between so many parking lots is not getting much use. The line only attracts about 700 riders a day.

Rushing says of this site:

There is a park on one side but the surrounding blocks are parking and more parking, punctuated by an occasional restaurant or hotel. In the 2+ years since the streetcar was completed, the only development has been to add solar panels to the parking lot next to the stop.

Denver — Pepsi Center/Mile High Stadium/West Auraria


There are three light rail stops within this Denver parking crater, which beat out a BART station and a suburban St. Louis light rail stop to reach the Final Four. Parking for an amusement park, the Pepsi Center (where the Nuggets play) and Mile High Stadium (where the Broncos play, below the frame), swamps this part of the Auraria neighborhood near Metropolitan State University of Denver.

Reader Jerry Goudin, an alum MSU of Denver, provides some background on how Auraria got to be this way:

In 1965, the S. Platte River, which can be seen in the lower left corner of the image, overran its banks and large portions of areas near the river flooded including the rail yards. The rail yards ran next to the river for much of its length in downtown Denver. The area in the upper right portion of the image was the neighborhood of Auraria and is now the Auraria campus. For the most part, Auraria was spared from the flood but the city of Denver used the flood as a pretext to consolidate three growing academic institutions in one place and, by doing so, wipe out much of the Auraria neighborhood. Here is a [photo] that shows the Auraria neighborhood before the establishment of the campus.

Photo via Denver Infill
Photo via Denver Infill

Cast your vote to determine which of these asphalt oceans will contend for the Golden Crater in the Parking Madness final.

Which city has the worst parking crater?

  • Denver (67%, 191 Votes)
  • Atlanta (33%, 92 Votes)

Total Voters: 283


6 thoughts on Parking Madness Final Four: Atlanta vs. Denver

  1. Taking the train by this area in Denver can just be depressing. And having to walk from here north to the city core is such an unpleasant experience too.

  2. The Atlanta one doesn’t look as bad as Denver, but remember, the Atlanta picture is smack dab in the heart of their Downtown, the most transit accessible and dense part of the city, next to the home of the 96 Olympics, as they so proudly claim.

  3. Not trying to one-up you at all, I don’t know anything about Atlanta but I know Denver.
    Denver’s crater is right smack dab in the heart of downtown too. 3 blocks from the 16th Street Mall, 4 blocks from the Union Station development, and right next to the so called urban campus of Auraria.

  4. I also know Denver, as I got my Bachelor’s from MSU Denver. The Pepsi Center/Elitch Gardens parking lot crater is at the southwest corner of downtown not “smack dab in the heart of downtown.” The light rail station (at 9th Street) is 7 blocks from the 16th St Mall with one more block to Union Station and, for the most part, quite removed from the rest of downtown. The Auraria Campus is starting to infill, but those parking lots around the arena and amusement park have been there for about 15 years ever since the rail yards were removed. Compare that to the Union Station area (now) after its corresponding rail yards were removed and the contrast is unbelievable. Owners of sports arenas and amusement parks in more suburban areas prefer to have lots and lots of surface parking so it is not that much of a surprise that these owners are keeping theirs here. Nevertheless, I think Denver’s is worse than Atlanta’s crater.

  5. Agreed. The parking lots under discussion here are at the western edge of Downtown Denver, not in the center. The Pepsi Center and Elitch Gardens (and their parking lots) were developed here specifically because the location offered a huge swath of open land available (as former railyards/floodplain), yet still fairly close to downtown Denver.

  6. Mile High Stadium and the Pepsi Center are classic “peak time” problems. 100% of that asphalt is used 8 times per year when the Broncos have a home game. The light rail is also at overcapacity at those same times.

    The Denver Urban Renewal Authority can be credited with demolishing the Auraria neighborhood. This is from their own website:
    The Colorado Urban Renewal Law was enacted in 1958, and the Denver
    Urban Renewal Authority (DURA) was created shortly thereafter. DURA
    was created to help eliminate slum housing conditions. Over time,
    DURA’s focus has widened to address redevelopment.”

    “help eliminate” in the 1960s meant “tear down old buildings and create surface parking.”

    Apparently, no one in Denver had ever read Jane Jacobs, and the city was doomed until our own savior arrived, one Dana Crawford.

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