Look How Much Space Is Dedicated Solely to Parking in Downtown Denver

All those green areas are used for nothing but storing cars. Image: Ryan Keeney

To hear the City Council tell it, what Denver really needs is more parking, even if it means making housing less affordable. But if you look around, Denver already has more parking than a healthy city should.

Even in the densest part of the city, vast parking craters and hulking, concrete garages run rampant. Ryan Keeney over at DenverInfill wanted to illustrate the madness, so he created these images showing how much space is dedicated to car storage downtown. It’s a lot.

More from Keeney on all the parking lots:

Superficially we believe that they are eyesores, but more important than that, we believe that they are underutilized pieces of prime real estate that suck the vitality from what should be the most pedestrian-oriented part of the city. When you have large areas of parking, there is minimal foot traffic and nothing to engage the people on the streets. From the pedestrian’s perspective, it is essentially a wasteland.

“When you walk on the streets, if you’re just an average Joe, you don’t quite immediately see that there are all these parking lots everywhere,” Keeney told Streetsblog. “It can really give a bad vibe to the place.”

The parking crater at 19th and Broadway is a quarter-mile of continuous space for storing private vehicles. Image: Ryan Keeney
At the parking crater by 19th and Broadway, you can draw a straight line a quarter-mile long and hit nothing but parking spaces and streets. Image: Ryan Keeney

Keeney, a grad student studying geographic information science at University of Denver, says he only highlighted land that’s used exclusively for parking — he didn’t even count buildings that mix garages and other uses. All told, he counted 237 acres land just for parking.

“I’ve traveled to other cities and other countries around the world and I’ve seen the alternative possibilities, and I’ve seen that so many other cities are completely infilled,” Keeney said. “Their center cities are so vibrant and filled with people, and that’s because they’re filled with buildings. And that draws people to the center city because there’s a lot of activity there. And I just eventually came to realize that these parking lots displace so much opportunity.”


Arapahoe Square is a neighborhood of parking lots. That will hopefully change with the elimination of parking minimums. Image: Ryan Keeney
An infilled block side by side with a lifeless block of parking. Image: Ryan Keeney
That yellow line slices through nearly a mile of parking lots. Image: Ryan Keeney
The whole shebang. Image: Ryan Keeney