The History of Parking

The History of Parking

Claire Elliott

Though transportation has shifted from horses to cars, people’s storage methods have remained the same. Rather than modern-day “parking,” the first drivers merely stopped their cars wherever their destination was. In other words, parked cars lied in the middle of streets, on sidewalks, and really anywhere that is possible.

Believe it or not, this method had its flaws. Traffic grew like a cancerous tumor and sucked precious time out of the public’s lives. Cities, trying to control the jamming streets, introduced bans and limits to parking . Like most bureaucratic solutions, unintended consequences soon followed. According to MIT Press The Reader, in 1920, when Los Angeles banned private automobiles from parking downtown, businesses’ profits fell to detrimental levels. One even reported that profits were down forty percent.

So, parking is clearly necessary, not only for the sanity of drivers, but also for economic stability. However, nonfunctional parking (which is a frequent occurrence) poses a number of threats.

Perhaps the most obvious peril, the safety in parking lots is parallel to that of the unlawed and brutal ocean. Hordes of cars swim jaggedly past, all moving towards the same unguarded space. Exiting this frenzy, too, leaves the vehicle’s flanks open to scrapes, T-bones, and fender-benders.

One of the worst parking lots in Fort Wayne is by Promenade Park. With a purely gravel ground, the lot has no designated spots, leaving parking up to the creative minds of the people. It is a disaster. Moreover, to enter the lot, one must overcome a full curb. Despite the “setbacks,” though, the lot does do its job: provide places for cars to temporarily park.

Many of the parking lots in congested areas like downtown suffer from similar flaws.

“I have not encountered many parking lots but it definitely is impossible to park downtown and at Chick-fil-a,” Jacob Scavo (11) said.

Unless it is a Sunday, Chick-fil-a tends to be one of the busiest sites in the entire Midwest. Their crisp yet tender nuggets are nearly irresistible. In fact, Chick-fil-a even shows up in the best “cheap-eats” in Fort Wayne.

Although they have an incredibly active drive-through, strengthened by the lack of dine-in seating, Chick-fil-a has a steady system in play. With only one exit, the line moves in an efficient, looped path. With little room to independently move one’s car, Chick-fil-a selected angled parking.

Normally, angled parking is terrible, with narrowed lanes, uncertain turns and seeing your car-neighbor all too clearly. However, the Chick-fil-a’s strict, one-way system creates the perfect environment for angled parking. Just slip out the line, angle in, and enjoy those nuggets.

Parking lots in more residential areas, too, are victims to poor planning and traffic.

“My church, pre-COVID, was super busy because everyone was trying to leave right after the service. There are only two ways out of the parking lot so it can get extremely congested,” Amelia Hardin (12) said.

The condition of Hardin’s church is one of the most common flaws in parking lots. “Bottlenosing” appears in big cities and small, claiming dominion over the people’s valuable time. USA Today reports that drivers spend seventeen hours a year, on average, looking for parking spaces. Such a waste of time is not without its economic consequences.

The worst part about parking lots, though, is quite obvious: the other drivers. To assume that people will retain their humanity and self-respect in such chaotic environments is utterly foolish. Take the Kroger on Coventry’s parking lot, for example. Although there are multiple exits and more than enough spots, people will speed down the aisles leading to scratches, T-bones, fender-benders, and more.

Furthermore, this is just a grocery store, filled mostly with adults. Imagine a Friday afternoon with raging teenagers and overworked soccer moms.

Originally published in the Spartana Issue 5 (February 2021)