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Chicago “Vertical Automatic Parking Lot” Solves the Big City Car Parking Problem, 1932

Many of you may have seen the photo at the bottom of this post which has been floating around the internet in the last few years showing the vertical parking lot. We were fortunate to find the British Pathé News Reel film seen above, which finally demonstrates it in action for us. The Vertical Automatic Parking Lot was developed by the Westinghouse Electric Company and first tested in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania before being set up as a commercial enterprise in the Chicago Loop during 1932 . You can see it work and hear a full explanation of it’s operation in the film.


Just above in the first two thumbnails are the full details of a test that was published in the January, 1932 issue of the Everyday Science and Mechanics. On the right, above, is an Ohio inventor’s proposal for a revolving circular steel tower designed along the same principal as a Lazy Susan. Cars were to be raised to the proper height on a vertical elevator set up on the side of the revolving floors. Both articles are courtesy of  Modern Mechanix. You can also view a much smaller and later plan called Sky Parking here on The Old Motor.

9 responses to “Chicago “Vertical Automatic Parking Lot” Solves the Big City Car Parking Problem, 1932

  1. Talk about an engineering marvel!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I have no idea a moving picture short was ever done on that elevator . I’m curious now as to what years the device was in use now.

      • This was located on the loop at Fullerton Ave & N. Sheffield on what is now DePaul University.

        I believe this was built by Westinghouse Corp which was originally developed in the early 1920’s.

        • The Loop location of DePaul University — a branch of the main campus a few miles north at Fullerton and Sheffield — is at the intersection of Wabash Avenue and Jackson Street.

  2. This is as good an idea now as it was then. It’s far more efficient than a big parking garage. With some modern updates this could be a terrific way to help with parking problems in big cities. Is there anybody doing something like this today?

    • Darrell, apparently quite a few companies do. Robotic Parking Systems in Clearwater, FL took over an old Checkers pre-fab restaurant plant and now builds them for worldwide sales. The new Elliot Museum in Stuart, FL uses such a system to constantly rotate it’s collection of Model A Fords. The visitor selects a car and the system fetches it for display.

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