Susan Gaeddert is Community Programs Director at 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, where she runs Active Wisconsin, facilitates the Community Transportation Academy, and coordinates the Wisconsin Climate Table.
This is Part 1 in the Summer Reading 2023 series.
Do you have a summer reading list? Summer is supposed to be a time to relax, slow down a little, spend more time outdoors, maybe take a vacation, and indulge in a good book or three. The last few months I’ve been fortunate to have the time to read a few new books that have informed or deepened my understanding of land use and transportation planning. These aren’t your typical “beach read,” but I found them to be engaging, entertaining, and informative.
Paved Paradise: How Parking Explains the World by Henry Grabar. Penguin Press, 2023.
Henry Grabar is a journalist who has been writing about urban planning and land use for years. In Paved Paradise, Grabar takes on one of the most pedantic topics imaginable - parking - and somehow makes it riveting. The book opens with a murder (a fight over a parking space that escalated badly) and from there takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the history of urban renewal, shopping malls, zoning, organized crime, NIMBYism, and even a modern cult.
It’s a good read with great storytelling, and contrary to what you might think, Grabar is not anti-car. He does, however, make a strong case for re-examining the American approach to land use and parking requirements. My only critique is that he focuses exclusively on large cities, mostly coastal, to the exclusion of small and mid-size rural and suburban communities who are just as “over-parked,” if not more so, as large urban centers. One thing is for sure, though - once you read this book, you’ll never look at a parking lot the same way again.
Have you read any good books lately? Drop me a note and let me know by emailing email@example.com