The bane and blessing of surface parking lots

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Welcome to my downtown Minneapolis neighborhood in a photo from 56 years ago, courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.

Surface parking lots are nothing new.

A Google Maps photo of this Warehouse District block shows a building has sprouted there.

But the Google photo also shows a breathtaking array of newer downtown surface parking lots.

How many? An estimate was floated over libations the other night with my friend Bill Clements, a former Finance and Commerce newspaper reporter who studied the question.

The answer? Bill’s estimate, calculated a few years ago, is that a third of downtown Minneapolis is devoted to surface parking.

You don’t need to take Bill’s word for it. Google, “downtown Minneapolis.” Zoom in a bit and count ’em. An amazing number of blocks are devoted to parking gas burners.

An excellent piece of reporting on the issue is here.