It’s March: Send Us Your Parking Craters!


March means one thing at Streetsblog: parking craters.

This is the sixth year our Parking Madness bracket will name and shame the urban areas where car storage has crowded out human habitat. We are now accepting submissions for the next field of 16 parking craters — huge park-and-ride lots next to transit, downtown stadium parking moats, waterfront asphalt expanses — to compete in the tournament.

The value of the tournament goes far beyond gawking at the amount of land we’ve let parking consume in our cities. It’s a way to reframe the public discussion about parking. City governments get an earful from motorists complaining about “not enough parking.” The beauty of Parking Madness is its visual depiction of how American cities have gone completely overboard to accommodate cars. Our problem now is too much parking.

The bracket gets a lot of attention too, and that provokes action. There are some big changes in store for last year’s winner, a sea of asphalt in Denver (above). City officials say winning the Parking Madness “championship” was a kick in the pants that accelerated an initiative to redevelop 1,800 parking spaces as a walkable neighborhood.

You might think that after five years and 80 parking crater entries, we’d start to run out of terrible asphalt moonscapes to feature in the tournament. Not so. One thing you learn running this contest is that there is a nearly inexhaustible supply of sorry parking craters in American cities.

We are looking for parking run amok in urban areas where walking, biking, and transit should be good travel options — not, say, giant suburban malls. The closer to the center of town or a transit station, the better. Only craters that have never competed before will be eligible.

Send us your submissions with at least one photo and a short explanation of why your parking crater is so egregious to angie at streetsblog dot org or leave them in the comments. We’ll be accepting entries until Thursday, March 15.

31 thoughts on It’s March: Send Us Your Parking Craters!

  1. Newport, Jersey City, NJ
    While Jersey City may be the 28th densest place in America, that does not exempt it from having craters. There are several shopping centers all of which have their own parking lot. There is Newport Mall which has a parking deck the size of the mall (and is rarely full) There are ground floor parking garages hidden from the eagle’s view which make the area lack store fronts and activity. (Also there are some small craters in Paulus Hook neighborhood just south of Newport)

  2. I nominate the South Philadelphia Sports Complex which includes the close edge of the Navy Yard to the south, and the area to the east near the CSX rail yards. I’ve circled the lots in red to show them more clearly.

    The Complex deserves extra points in the Parking Crater competition by placing its new venues FARTHER from the Broad Street Subway station (see yellow arrow) than the torn-down ones. Because who doesn’t want to walk through acres of parking lots to reach their destination, even when they took the subway? Sure, some of the parking lots have solar panels on them, but that doesn’t excuse the awful urban design and unwalkability.

    The new Navy Yard should earn it even more extra points in the competition. The new Navy Yard buildings dispensed with urbanist principles, and are built to look exactly like a 1970s office park. These buildings come with all the parking you could want, and again, long walks through lots to reach the next building down the street. Want to walk from the subway to the new Navy Yard buildings? A pleasant stroll under an interstate; no subway extension unfortunately so a minimum 2 seat ride by transit.

    The area to the east near the CSX Rail Yard seems to be empty lots filled with new cars just off the boat. I guess Philly is just doing its part to support even more car ownership.

  3. The areas directly to the north and east of San Jose’s main train station are parking lots. While this crater does not seem as big as others, it is right next to the second busiest train station on the west coast. Not only the 2nd busiest station of California’s west coast, but the entire west coast of the Western Hemisphere.

    The city plans to redevelop this area so it may not remain as a parking crater for long.,-121.8997046,793m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x808fcb58a4e11b73:0x9e3ba7280649281a!8m2!3d37.3299055!4d-121.9025012

    The area Southwest of Fremont BART in the East Bay is an absolute sea of parking. I’ve zoomed in on the most egregious part, but the proliferation of parking lots continues further southwest all the way to the Target on Fremont Blvd. Below is a map link to the wider area. Click “View larger map” and zoom in to the section between Fremont BART & Target.

    (Apologies if it’s already been submitted.)

  5. The former historic neighborhood of Lavilla to the west of downtown Jacksonville, FL and east of I-95 was razed in the 90’s as part of the “River City Renaissance” plan. To this day, the proverbial phoenix has not risen from the ashes more than 20 years later and contains parking lots, empty fields (used as parking) and suburban style development within the city’s grid. At least the JEA’s Skyway ‘Express’ has plenty of parking surrounding it to bring commuters from nowhere a few blocks away to.. well, kinda nowhere.

  6. I would like to nominate the Midway District in San Diego, California. This is an area of San Diego that connects to the communities of Ocean Beach and Point Loma. It is predominantly industrial with suburban big box stores of which are served by the parking lots. Sports Arena Blvd, Midway Drive, and Rosecrans Street are the major arterials which connect the communities, but they are entirely bloated high speed stroads with horrendous walking and biking infrastructure. Intersections in this part of town are huge with crossings ranging from 4-8 lanes. The San Diego Trolley (light rail) Old Town Station is on the other side of an underpass of I-5, but it’s nearly impossible to reach it on foot and extremely dangerous by bicycle. The highly desirable Liberty Station as a destination is completely cut-off from any mode of transportation besides a car except for two bus stops and a narrow bike lane along the Rosecrans Stroad of the premises of Liberty Station. Even then, More than half of the land devoted for guests at Liberty Station is devoted to surface parking lots.

    San Diego has plans to redevelop this area, but the scale of construction required to fix the issues will take many decades and enormous political will power. In the meantime, this area is on the biggest urban blights on the coastal San Diego landscape.

  7. I nominate milwaukee’s marina parking lots. Located in a gem of Olmsted’s emerald neckless of milwaukee parks, it’s massive combined 16 acres of waterfront parking. this year the county is spending 2.1 million dollars on just phase 1 of 3 to begin resurfacing the massive, “free” parking lots. Concurrently, continued cuts to the parks budget.

  8. The area around Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, RI. It’s adjacent to downtown (cut off by a freeway, appropriately enough) and the waterfront (same). There is a ton of high frequency bus service and it will soon be served by the Downtown Connector, a realignment of several bus routes to offer <5 min. headways (this is the repurposing of federal funds awarded for the Providence Streetcar).

  9. I would like to make a second entry into the contest. This is Kearny Mesa in San Diego, CA. This large triangle area is shaped by Highway 52 to the north, I-805 to the west, and Highway 163 to the east. This section of town is almost entirely industrial except for a small enclave of homes to the southwest corner of the triangle. Old suburban style single family housing exists on the west side of I-805. Accessing this area is almost completely done by car. While there is bus service to the main corridors, the pedestrian atmosphere is horrifically dangerous. The only way to walk to this area of town is either crossing over two freeway overpasses or a small pedestrian bridge in the southwest corner which does not go connect anywhere.

    The businesses in this are primarily industrial with work shops, a bus yard, suburban style big box stores, and car sales lots. The key factor into why I’m submitting this is because this triangle is the hub of the Asian cuisine in San Diego. The Asian grocery stores and most popular/best restaurants are located within this triangle. As a result, it’s very popular among locals and gets extremely busy with car traffic especially on weekends. These free parking lots fill to the brim with people cruising for an empty spot. Street parking is available and is free. Walking between restaurants and shops is an extremely uncomfortable feat. The high speed stroads in this area do not feature crosswalks except at major intersections which are often up to a quarter mile or more apart. Thus, people tend to cross where they want. Street lighting is abysmal. This creates an unsafe street environment which does not invite people to explore the surroundings. Furthermore, the sidewalks are not in good shape for people with mobility issues trying to get around, especially in wheelchairs. All these businesses are recessed from the street level and dominated by huge parking lots thus you have to walk through parking lots to reach your destination.

    This area needs an unbelievable amount of improvement and rezoning ordinances to build apartments. There is an unbelievable amount of surface parking lot space available to be converted to housing which would benefit the local businesses and create a better environment for walking and calls for improved public transit.

  10. I want to nominate Hicksville in Nassau County, New York. This surrounds the Hicksville station which has a great chance for TOD. Hicksville gets about 133 trains per day and is only about 40-50 minutes away from Penn Station. Instead there is a big crater of parking. To get to a talk with Neil deGrasse Tyson I had to take the LIRR to Hicksville and take a slow bus. At Hicksville I saw nothing but parking lots. You essentially have to walk through parking lots to get out of the station. There is so much potential here, but it is waste. ed.,+NY/@40.7698496,-73.5292836,1293m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x89c280e21d6f79bb:0xe480b32e3448da94!8m2!3d40.7684331!4d-73.5251253

  11. I nominate Owings Mills Metro Station in Owings Mills, MD, a northwestern suburb of Baltimore 2-3 miles outside the Baltimore Beltway. Owings Mills Mall (shown in photo) has been demolished and Mill Station ( is under construction. It will be a big box shopping center anchored by a Costco, even as a Sam’s Club a couple miles down the road has recently closed. There is still a big parking lot in front of the movie theatre near the train station. Next to the Metro Station are two giant parking garages with approximately 3,000-4,000 combined spots. That is all on the west side of I-795. On the highway’s East side are a few big parking lots, a giant office park, and another shopping center, Foundry Row, which has a few big parking lots. The light green roof on the right is a BJ’s Warehouse Club with another giant parking lot.

  12. Wow! And this picture doesn’t even include the adjacent, humongous vacant lot where Astroworld used to be. Definitely the winner.

  13. I hope I’m not too late. 4th and Cary in Richmond, VA is not the biggest crater in the city. Those are across the highway from downtown. It is, however, a mysterious crater. The location is half way between the Monroe Park Campus of Virginia Commonwealth University and the state capitol, in a prime spot for apartments within walking distance of both. It’s slated to get bus service every 15 minutes, beginning this summer. Recognition of this crater may get a developer interested in these parcels and may get the owners of the lots willing to sell rather than to wait for VCU or the state to buy the land.

  14. I just found this website, so I hope you will accept my entry. Xenia, Ohio is a town that is roughly 25,000 people. It may not seem that big of a city to be worth talking about in this case, but hear me out. The city was founded on a traditional street grid just like most cities founded in early American history. It grew like any normal city did until 1974 when one of the worst tornadoes ever recorded struck the downtown. It completely obliterated everything, and in its place, shopping centers and lots, and lots of parking lots. In the picture below, the red boxes are where parking lots currently exist in the city, and the blue is where there used to be roads that no longer exist in the city to make way for the shopping center. It is easy to see just exactly how much parking is in the downtown area of Xenia and the funny thing is, is that the citizens are complaining that there isn’t enough parking! I have never in my life seen the Xenia Towne Square parking lot full, and I have lived here for 18 years. In my experience, Xenia is one of the worst towns for a parking crater, especially for its size.

  15. Poor choice. 80s shopping malls came with huge parking garages, yes, but pretty much every lot and vacant parcel will slowly be redeveloped over time.

  16. Your picture shows Lakewood Washington, but the caption is for Lakewood California. Misleading a bit.

  17. Yep, that is Long Beach, CA, my city of residence. That picture only shows some of the ridiculous parking down near the water. So sad that this is the former site of The Pike amusement park.

  18. I know this is (a) a year old and (b) you’re doing the contest differently this year, but the worst parking crater – and obstacle to good planning – is the entire downtown area of Erie, PA.

    Huge parking craters created by former Mayor (and alleged mobster) Lou Tullio – blocks and blocks and blocks of flat one level parking.

    Add to that a misguided move in the 90s to put in a bypass at the lakefront that actually took people AWAY from downtown, and you have a place that used to be vibrant, full of pedestrians and filled with restaurants and culture, now a shadow of its former self.

  19. I nominated Naperville, IL.
    My cousin lives there and is fighting a development.
    Specificall Metra stop “Route 59”
    A metra stop where its filled with cars.

    And I try to explain that the town should be built around these metra stops rather than having a parking lot there……you know the rest……they don’t get that the traffic is bad because the area is not walkable.

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