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If your favorite buildings had to meet parking requirements

I saw this hypothetical recently: what if the Empire State Building met today’s parking requirements? The answer is that we would have to demolish 56 acres, or 15 city blocks, around it. Now, what if we applied this to the most loved buildings in your town?

A depiction of how many blocks would need to be demolished for a parking lot around the Empire State Buildings.

The above chart by Dhiru Thadani shows how much space a parking lot around the Empire State Building would require. You can read his whole explanation here.

I live far from New York City, in a town that mostly grew after parking requirements had already been mandated. But we still have our share of buildings fortunate to have been constructed before such regulations existed. These are now among the most distinctive and attractive buildings in our city.

These places survive partially thanks to their “historic” designation by the government. But they were not historic when our ancestors built them. They were just normal buildings.

Parking requirements now make it mostly illegal for us to repeat the success of our now-historic buildings. Why should you only have one small downtown full of nice places? Why not build more of your favorite buildings throughout your entire city? If the answer is parking requirements, then it’s time to look at fixing that.

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