Not long after the automobile became an accepted part of the transportation picture in cities there was a problem with finding places to park all of the vehicles. The first solution was the parking lot that was soon followed by the construction of parking garages. In 1932, a vertical parking garage came into use in Chicago with space to park many cars on a small footprint.
With increased post-war traffic clogging city streets, brothers Leo and Vaughn Sanders of Spokane, Washington, invented and patented a system that came to be known as “Pigeon Hole Parking.” With this system, over one-hundred cars could be parked in a lot only fifty-feet wide by placing them in boxes stacked vertically. The first use of this system is reported to be the facility in the lead image erected in Spokane in 1950.
The first of four main “Parking Elevator” patents filed in 1949, was granted to the Sanders Brothers in 1953; a patent drawing showing the first system can is visible at the bottom of this post. With less square footage of real estate needed to house a large number of cars, the system was soon put in place in a number of spots around the country. In addition to the parking fees charged at these new facilities, further income for some of the operators was realized by selling gasoline, oil and other automotive services.
The Sanders’ eventually sold sixty of the parking systems in the United States, Canada, and Venezuela; a small number of them appear to remain in operation today. One of the main drawbacks of this type of arrangement occurs if electrical or mechanical problems develop with the traveling bridge or elevator that services the system. A breakdown leaves all of the cars parked above ground stranded until repairs can be made, or electrical power can be restored.
- The 1953 opening of a facility at Wilshire Boulevard and South Flower Street in Los Angeles, California above and below