Gargantuan Garages

On February 2, 2012 · 7 Comments

Were is the world’s largest parking garage? I’m not sure why that came to mind, as if I can ever figure out why I fixate on such oddities. It’s a tougher question than I imagined. I wanted to ponder this from the perspective of a single stand-alone structure. Lots of the sources I consulted happened to mix-and-match designs, making it particularly difficult to compare. There are large surface lots without garages, multiple garages strung together, or single facilities with disconnected surface lots and/or garages. Often sources count all of these varied parking space towards a bottom-line total. All I wanted was the largest single garage. I didn’t care about any of the rest.

I kept running across claims that Dubai World Central in the United Arab Emirates will someday have 100,000 parking spaces. Great for them. That would be the total available spaces (not a single garage) and it doesn’t exist yet, so it’s disqualified. I’m not sure if the project got caught-up in the global economic situation or if it’s still a work in progress. I may return to this again someday if or when it’s completed.

Another location was mentioned by almost every source, the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada. It definitely has 20,000 spaces. It’s not all contained within a single building (map) so I eliminated it from further consideration.

The best source I discovered during my investigation was a 2008 article in Forbes. That helped me narrow down the choices. I’ll propose the single largest parking structures with 10,000 or more spaces and of course I’ll invite others to offer alternatives or additions. I’m less certain of my choices than usual. Even so I think they’re all pretty amazing.

Sea-Tac Airport, Washington

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Sea-Tac is a portmanteau of Seattle and Tacoma. Interestingly, Sea-Tac isn’t located in Seattle or Tacoma but in the City of SeaTac (no hyphen). SeaTac must be one of the few English-language towns with a capital letter embedded within the middle of its name (anyone know of others?).

The garage at Sea-Tac has 13,000 parking spaces. It is so large that I can’t even fit its enormity into a single Street View image. It’s equally impressive from above. I’ve flown into Sea-Tac numerous times over the years but I can’t recall noticing the garage. I guess maybe I was too focused on trying to get the rental car to the Interstate so I could get on my way. I’ll have to pay more attention next time.

Detroit Metro Airport, Michigan

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Detroit Metro Airport — officially the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport — has a big garage befitting it’s big, long name. The McNamara Terminal Parking Structure is the one that makes the list with 11,500 spaces. However, the other one should get a special award for the better name: The Big Blue Deck.

It looks totally utilitarian, a block of concrete on a sea of concrete. It the old Soviet Union had designed a giant parking garage, it would probably have looked like this one. Maybe that’s a bit harsh. It isn’t that ugly.

Universal Studios, Orlando Florida

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Universal Studios is impressive because its South Facility has two parking garages, each with 10,200 spaces. It’s too bad they couldn’t connect them together into a single structure because they’d take the prize.

Disneyland, Anaheim, California

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The final standalone garage that offers 10,000 spaces is Disneyland’s Mickey and Friends Parking Structure. It’s utilitarian but go ahead and compare the scenery with Detroit. There seem to be some architectural detailing plus some nice landscaping with palm trees. I know where I’d rather spend the day.

As one might suspect, the list is dominated by airports and theme parks. Large shopping malls also tend to have a lot of parking spaces but they also tend to have a greater preponderance of surface lots than garages. I was a little surprised that none of them made it into the top tier, though. I was also surprised that all of the examples I uncovered were located in the United States. It left me wondering whether this was really true or whether I didn’t dig deep enough.

On February 2, 2012 · 7 Comments

7 Responses to “Gargantuan Garages”

  1. Peter says:

    It’s a bit surprising that none of the huge gambling casinos in Las Vegas have garages on the list.

  2. Ethan says:

    Another city with a capital letter in the middle of the name: WaKeeney, Kansas.
    The map itself does not display the name as such, but I assure you, the ‘K’ is capitalized.

  3. Alger says:

    Ich, parking garages. Since I took to not driving to work, one part of my commute always seems to include a pedestrian route through or past a parking garage. It is consistently the lowpoint of the walk/bike to work from a safety perspective and aesthetically. I am pleased/dismayed/gobsmacked(?) to discover by how much things could be worse.

    As for places with English names and a capital letter…well so long as you consider Scots surnames there are many many many.
    For example, check out the list for Alabama alone:

  4. Scooby says:

    I’m sure there are plenty of McSomething and MacSomething place names to put on your list of CamelCase place names along with SeaTac.

  5. Neil says:

    For perspective, a mere 40 years ago, a 4300 space garage was large enough to capture the title.

    This is for the Worcester Common Outlets, which is now in the process of being removed from the city.

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