We have certainly come a long way since the invention of the three-wheeled automobile by Carl Benz in the late 19th century. While there were many challenges that would soon emerge as a consequence of the brilliant invention, the most immediate one was that of “housing” these vehicles.
In other words, the first cars weren’t as weather resistant as the cars of today, owing to their open roofs and leather seats. Thus, they had to be parked indoors and this is how parking garages came into existence.
Parking garages or horse stables?
The most rudimentary of these parking garages were enclosed spaces, not set apart from the neighborhood. Many garages even included a servicing and gas station. A car was just another machine and so keeping it in a storage room with other machines was justified.
But most of the time, cars could be parked right where the horses were kept. Interestingly, you had to pay the same amount of money to park a car as you had to keep your horse in a stable.
Parking in multistorey buildings
With at least a million cars and counting, people in the 20th century sought to create garages that would help save space. The earliest known multistorey car parking was built in London in 1902-03. It was three-storey tall and could house 200 cars.
Another was soon built in Glasgow between 1906-11 but was initially only for the local residents of the area. The trend continued in the US and underground parking came into existence by the ‘20s.
A hotel for cars
A fascinating fact about the earliest garages was that drivers weren’t allowed to park their cars. This function was carried out by the parking attendants. Some called this a “hotel for cars”.
The ‘40s and the ‘50s saw the evolution of Double Helix car parking where cars ascended on spiral ramps. One was the double helix ramp and the other was the continuous ramp, and they helped park cars with the former moving up, and the latter moving down.
Some of these parking facilities had separate areas for women to have their cars parked and even offered services like babysitting while the women shopped for groceries.
Parking your own car
Parking hotels gave way for “park-it-yourself” garages. Here, you could move your car through the help of ramps in a multistorey parking facility.
This ramp system that came into existence a few decades before the ‘50s was called the “D’Humy ramp system”. Here things became tricky because parking a car turned into a race for parking space.
The ‘50s were the most important period in the history of car parking and garages. It was in the ‘50s that construction of parking garages boomed and allowed the creation of parking that was intricate, and ones that were ascetically pleasing to the driver.
The 21st century has largely relied on automated car parking that helps park cars with technology, making the process quick and easy. If the history of cars is important, so is the history of the places that kept them safe and ready for us to use.
Garages, in a way, are the staple for any metropolis’s area because they offer solutions to parking that are space saving, something that every city of the 21st century needs.