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Phoenix, Arizona and the luxury of space, and parking spots


I have a good friend who grew up in Phoenix, and decided a few months ago to buy a van and travel around a bit. He headed west, and as I write this, he is in California. I talk to him regularly, and I enjoying seeing my California through his eyes, especially the Los Angeles area.

My friend is a very cheerful, positive person who has always taken the time to admire a beautiful sunset, and most of his comments about California are about its natural beauty, especially the ocean. His Instagram posts are wonderful images of mountains and surf, but behind the scenes I know that he is missing something that Phoenix has a lot of, which is parking spots.

It wasn't always true in Phoenix. There was a time when Phoenix had been overwhelmed by cars, but after World War II there was a big push to build parking lots, and new malls were built, like Park Central (I always thought that the word "park" was meant to attract attention!), and Uptown Plaza. And then even bigger malls followed, always surrounded by a gigantic sea of parking spots. I haven't lived in California since the 1980s, but I'm still very happy to go anywhere in the Phoenix area and know that I will find a parking spot.

It's over 100 degrees here, and when I talk to my friend I say, "Yeah, it's hot, but you can find a parking spot!". And I don't mean a convenient parking spot. In California, especially in the Los Angeles and San Diego area near the beach, you can't even stop your car.

It's not a conspiracy, man, Los Angeles simply ran out of room before they realized that they would have a problem. If you look at old photos of the Los Angeles area, it looks as if there's endless room. But it all filled up before they figured out that most people would own a car, and most people would need to park it. It's part of the reason that in the 1960s Phoenix started looking like just one gigantic parking lot, especially downtown, and why parking garages are now springing up down there.

Of course, by now cars were supposed to be able to drive themselves, drop you off somewhere, and then come back for you. And they were supposed to fly, too! But they don't. In my lifetime nothing much has changed with cars other than the traffic is denser, and parking spots are harder to find. Still, it's a whole lot better in Phoenix than in Los Angeles! Yeah, hotter, too.

Image at the top of this post: A parking spot in Phoenix, right nearby.

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