One evident and erratic thing the car brought was the need for its own storeroom. The early motorcars, expensive playthings for the wealthy, inhabited in old carriage houses or stables. Slowly but surely, the carriage house grew into a structure of its own: a spit-and-polish refurbishing shop for the car, regularly with a chauffeur-cum-mechanic living above and even a gas pump out front.
As the ’20s advanced, so did downtown street-side jams. Businesses located in city centers soon found themselves dealing with fixing new accommodations for the flood of cars. The old solution for parking like the open lot, farmyard, carriage house or shed in the countryside; the storehouse or empty industrial building in the metropolitans no longer provided enough space for the mounting amount of motorcars. City planners turned to other quarters for their automobiles.
Already in 1918, revolutionary Chicago began to invent new architectural designs to keep automobiles out of sight and keep its skyscraper city. (For a short time, they even prohibited parking in the Loop.)
The first garages were built with carousel ramps leading the cars in and out of the storage floors. The challenge of moving cars in and out of such garages quicker inspired designers to develop new technologies – Ferris wheel-like designs, turntables, transfer carts or mixtures of elevators and ramps – and caused garage owners the need to hire parking assistants.
These innovations did not really help. Freeing up streets for traffic instead of parking became a crucial issue already in the twenties. Debates were raised about double parking and angled or sideways parking. It was observed in 1928 that the second most discussed issue in modern cities was parking right next to the first one: the weather.
The answer for big cities quickly became city-sponsored open parking lots. These brought with them the next problem: where to find space for such lots. The issue was so acute that someone even suggested moving the Washington monument to replace it with a parking lot.
The next development stage was to save space by building multilevel parking lots under and above ground near or even under buildings. With the explosion in the amount of cars in city centers even multilevel parking became uneconomical as a lot of space was wasted on access ramps and middle passages. After the second world war new technologies were being developed for automatic parking – solutions that utilized parking space as efficiently as possible.