One of this blog’s earliest posts had to do with the ghost town effect of all of the surface parking in downtown Minneapolis. So much surface area downtown (as much as one-third, by some estimates) is dedicated to parking—most of which is for commuters—that on evenings and weekends when those commuters aren’t around, there remain vast swaths of pavement surrounding the core of downtown that sit empty, creating a kind of asphalt fortress around the city center that sends a clear message to visitors and residents about how one is meant to interact with this space.
The post focused mostly on a stretch of road along 5th Avenue South between 10th Street and 2nd Street, and at the time, we didn’t provide our usual statistics regarding the ratio of cars to parking spots because, well, we had all of these great photos that we thought needed to be out in the world right then, and counting all of those parking spots would have taken so…much…time. Hours, at least. Maybe an entire day. So we went ahead with the post sans figures, because the photos themselves were compelling enough.
Well, over the weekend, we finally took the time to crunch the numbers, and—to say the least—they are pretty staggering. Along a single stretch of 5th Ave. South (a stretch that occupies ten entire city blocks and spans three-quarters of a mile), drivers have their choice of no fewer than 7,401 parking spots. This number includes all parking lots and parking garages that can be accessed along this stretch of 5th Avenue and includes 2,666 surface parking spaces as well as 4,735 garage parking spaces spread between 5 above-ground garages. Most of these lots can be accessed for an entire day for five or six dollars (or less than it takes to get to and from downtown via an express bus), and most of them also don’t reach capacity even during the busiest times of the day.
The numbers say plenty, but nevertheless, we’ll go ahead and include some of the old photos as well in order to give you a sense of just how many of those spots get used during evenings and weekends.