A Great View If You Like Parking Lots

In our podcast “Parking Is Hell,” we explored how the overwhelming demand for parking space has a lot of downsides. One big problem is that city centers can feel as if they’re practically held hostage by parking lots and garages. I was in Minneapolis the other day, and here are four pictures taken from the window of my hotel room. It’s not exactly a view that makes the heart skip … 







Can you imagine what this downtown might look like without all those parking garages? Bring on the driverless car! If our cars have the ability to drop us off and pick us up with the swipe of a touchscreen, what will these acres and acres and acres of city land turn into? 


Actually you don't need self-driving (not driverless) cars, you need robot garages:

John Peschken

Why wouldn't they become parking lots for driverless cars?


I like that little circular ramp leading up to the last level, in the last picture. Must be a real treat driving up that in the Minneapolis winter.

Seth Goodman

I can imagine. It's not the same scene, but it's the same idea: http://graphingparking.com/
Yes, many of the parking garages shown above would be converted to buildings but at least there would be the chance to have some interesting architecture instead of lifeless concrete abysses. And no, not everyone wants to take the bus, but if some of those new buildings were residential, then you'd have a lot of people that don't need to commute at all. Even if it's not for everyone, the demand for that kind of lifestyle is there, but we won't be able to satisfy it until city governments stop requiring parking for every new development.


Tastes differ, but I really can't see how a large concrete structure warehousing humans is either more or less of a "lifeless concrete abyss" than a large concrete structure warehousing cars. Take picture #2 for instance: what exactly makes the parking garage in the center less architecturally interesting than the buildings visible to the right & behind it?


Can you imagine how many of these ramps wouldn't be there if the City of MPLS wasn't putting taxpayer $$$$$$$ into building them?


Urban planning implications of driverless cars in this essay. http://daily.sightline.org/2013/06/04/a-self-driving-future/


Funny thing is, Minneapolis is an excellent cycling city, vying with Portland as the number one city for commuter cyclists. We have the Greenway, for goodness sake! A good number of cyclists continue throughout the winter here, as well (me included). The city does what it can to improve cycling infrastructure, given budget constraints and the complaints from some motorists. And for the midwest, public transport isn't half bad, and is improving. More of that, and we'd have fewer cars.

The University of Minnesota is the worst place to try to park. But I've found, even here into November, that if you get on campus by bike later than 9am, you'll have trouble finding a place to lock your bike.


I agree with you and it is unfortunate that so many American cities and suburbs have large lots of land and space devoted to parking.

Minneapolis is an amazing city though, so I hope you got to explore a little bit.


"the overwhelming demand for parking space has a lot of downsides." No, the overwhelming supply of parking space has a lot of downsides. The quantity demanded is high because the good has been heavily subsidized and the price is artificially, insanely, low.