The (Multi) Story of Car Parking

10In 2006, there were a total of 2,734,360 vehicle registrations in the UK, meaning the number of cars, and other vehicles used by Britain’s drivers, shows little sign of dropping. This is despite numerous schemes and initiatives, such as car sharing or cycling being heavily promoted in an attempt to encourage drivers to do less driving.

While these vehicles may have a huge effect on the country’s roads, there is another problem encountered by their owners: when they aren’t being driven, they need somewhere to be parked. While some homes come complete with a parking garage and/or spacious driveway, many don’t, with the result the roadside is becoming increasingly lined by parked cars and town and city-centre car parks are generally full.

To house growing numbers of vehicles, the infrastructure and geography of some countries allows widespread, sprawling car parks that utilise many square miles of ground, however unattractive the results may ultimately be. Most European countries, however, cannot afford the same luxury. It may be surprising then, that the earliest-known multi-storey car park was actually designed in the USA.

The structure was built in 1918, for the Hotel La Salle in Chicago, Illinois, and represents the earliest attempts to save ground space by building up instead of out. So great was its influence that it was saved from demolition in 1976, based on being designated with preliminary landmark status, while the hotel it was built for was unceremoniously knocked down.

It was finally demolished itself in 2005, but the idea has endured and been developed for many years since. Now the multi-storey car park is a standard structure in most built-up areas, meaning it is not ground space that is the major limiting factor in the capacity for storing vehicles, but how many floors can be built vertically.

The largest single-roof parking structure in the world – dubbed a ‘mega-garage’ – is the Seattle Sea-Tac Airport lot. Although it is not the largest in terms of area, it can boast 13,000 spaces. In fact, the very largest, the Universal Studios South Facility, holds ‘only’ around 9,200 cars.
While these structures may be impressive feats of design and engineering, and also house thousands of vehicles safely, there remain thousands of cars in the UK that do not have access to such a service all day every day. For these owners, their primary source of car parking is the street, where they are more open to potential damage by other vehicles. As a result, vehicle protection and maintenance can be difficult, so other methods of vehicle protection and care, such as discount car insurance, are essential.

With so many people needing the use of a vehicle space in many countries is a valuable commodity. However, while many new ideas are tested to combat the problem, it is still the result of the innovation of the early 20th century that most city planners rely on when parking their cars.

Adam Singleton writes for a digital marketing agency. This article has been commissioned by a client of said agency. This article is not designed to promote, but should be considered professional content.

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