Neo

Let's get rid of parking lots in our downtowns

10 posts in this topic

The Overhead Wire ran a great article entitled 'Parking Bombs' that re-iterates the obvious hatred most of us have for parking lots in the downtown districts of our cities.

Unfortunately the invention of the mass produced automobile brought a lot of side affects that ruined our cities, particularly those who were just beginning to really flourish when the automobile boom started. These cities were built around the automobile and remain so, for the most part, today. Cities have bent over backwards to tear down beautiful architecture for a few parking spaces in a sea of asphalt.

Cities do seem to be filling in the asphalt scars left in our downtowns, but so much work is still left to be done. Check out this image of Houston (the city I consider to be the epitome of automobile) from the late 1980's (from The City Shaped):

post-1-12668654834327_thumb.jpg

How can we return our urban centers to a pedestrian friendly environment without having to wait for generations?

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That picture of Houston is just awful, could you imagine having to walk out all those blocks to your car at night? The sad thing is, if a parking structure is done 'right' with density in mind, you could have ground level offices/retail to cater to all the commuters who travel into downtown. I have seen some done that actually have a decent facade. I wonder what that view of Houston was like before all those surface lots came into being...

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here in norfolk we went from a dense city in the 1930s:

ns5744.JPG

To a wasteland in the 60s:

Main%20St.%20105.jpgMain%20St.%20122.jpg

By the late 1980's the wasteland was paved over:

norfolk%201990.jpg

Recently, however, we are making a huge improvement. I don't think downtown Norfolk has but one or two surface lots left. The city even released a plan recently to develop the surface lots around the Harbor Park baseball stadium into a mixed-use multi-modal transportation center.

norfolk2010.jpg

Hopefully, this will continue. I wish we would tear down our awful interchange that sits right in the middle of downtown. Maybe our very own Big Dig and stick the whole thing underground.

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^ Wow, what a city you guys had in the 1930's! It's so sad to see it dozed down for "progress" though.

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Good grief, that picture of the parking lots in Houston is just mind blowing! It looks like the parking lots you see at an amusement park in the middle of the city. I guess maybe I'll complain about Charlotte's a little bit less.

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^ Wow, what a city you guys had in the 1930's! It's so sad to see it dozed down for "progress" though.

definitely more dense. they bulldozed it mainly because it was the easy way out of the crime that had developed. and they were called the 'leader' in urban renewal...

I guess maybe I'll complain about Charlotte's a little bit less.

no, go ahead and keep complaining. parking lots have no place in an urban city. i dont even like parking garages unless they have storefront space at street level like the new Wachovia center in Downtown Norfolk.

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As nice as it would be to get rid of the parking lots in our downtowns, it's just not conceivable in most cities. We can wish all we want that our cities would go back to how they were pre-60's, but it's not going to happen (at least in the near future). What this discussion should be centered around is: how can we end automobile dependence in our cities? (as opposed to "how can we end automobile use in our cities altogether?")

For example, if your city's downtown has a major arena, you'd probably agree that it needs parking (unless you live in NYC or Chicago). Sure, there are alternative options we could debate, but can we agree on one thing: suburbanites like to drive. And if they can't drive to the game, they won't go. Americans are spoiled, and there's no quick fix.

Discussion topics that might deserve more merit: what kind of parking (surface v. garage)? How much? How close? What should it look like?

Someone mentioned building ramps with retail/etc at the ground level. In Grand Rapids, a developer just finished building a ramp with a "liner" building surrounding it; if it weren't for the garage door and "PARKING" sign, you wouldn't even know it was a ramp.

It's the first of it's kind in Grand Rapids, and has been quite an interesting development to follow.

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How can we return our urban centers to a pedestrian friendly environment without having to wait for generations?

More motorcycles and bicycles.

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Baton Rouge is lucky in that our garages are designed nicely downtown, but an aerial of the city is a HUGE eyesore:  102.jpg

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Same here. I wish we would get rid of some of our down town parking lots. Some of them really take up quite a bit of space.

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