February 22, 2012

Parking Lots in Downtown

Last week, I looked at historic aerials of downtown Columbus since 1959. I also implied that skyscrapers were to blame for parking lots along with the freeway. I didn't research it so I think it would be interesting to investigate how much destruction came from the freeway construction and how much came from the skyscrapers. This first post on the subject will look at the current parking situation.

What do I think of parking? I understand that people will drive places and that parking is a necessity. In urban areas which are densely populated/visited, parking lots are a poor use of space. If a person has to walk for multiple blocks to get past surface lots, it negates part of the purpose of living in a densely area. So overall, I am of the opinion that parking garages are alright; parking lots are bad.

Cbus Cycle Chic had an interesting post about parking spots in the downtown article. According to the post, there are 100,000 downtown workers and 73,000 parking spaces. She also included a map of where parking spaces are located.

Slightly less related, Columbus Underground recently had a post about whether Long Street and other streets should become 2-way streets. Long Street and Spring Street have some of the most egregious offenders of amount of surface lots.

Anyway, I've made a map of where surface parking lots are. The methodology is pretty simple although I chose a odd boundary for my "study" scope, but it covers most areas that are considered downtown. I used Google Maps satellite view and made shapes around surface lots. Parking garages or buildings with parking lots on top of the building are not included. It took enough time as it is to draw 272 shapes for parking lots.

Without further ado, here's my map:

Surface lots in downtown circa 2010. See here for interactive map.
In the future I plan to update this map to include parking garages. It's interesting in the skyscraper mecca of Riffe / Huntington / Leveque / 5/3rd / Rhodes there are few surface lots. Instead, there are mainly only parking garages. I also plan on making a similar map based off of the 1971 aerial to see how things have changed.

Cool Scrubs-what-come-before-part-b link of the day:


  1. I would suggest that surface parking lots are also ways of holding onto downtown land (sitting on it) without having improvements that would cause a tax burden for the owner. It is then easier to sell as a blank slate to an interested developer when the price is right.

    There would be more parking garages and more deveopment if undeveloped land in downtown was taxed at a higher rate, imho.

    1. I agree that there are likely rooms for improvement. I don't know enough about public policy to provide much input, but I do like the idea of a tax policy which promotes buildings and discourages vacancy/parking lots.


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