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Parking Problems in the 1920s

With the rise of the automobile came the need for parking space, an acute problem in large towns and cities in Nebraska as early as the 1920s. Journalist and press historian Henry Allen Brainerd commented on the parking problem in downtown Lincoln in a January 29, 1923, letter to the Lincoln Star. Brainerd bemoaned the congestion on city streets as well as the lack of foresight of the builders of downtown commercial buildings. He reluctantly acknowledged the necessity of a new two-hour limit on downtown Lincoln parking and recommended underground parking garages as a partial solution to the problem.

Brainerd said, "What a pity that the builders of large business blocks could not have looked ahead at the time of building and seen the need of parking space in the larger cities of the world. Had this been possible and the far-sightedness into the future of these business men who have erected mammoth buildings, the problem of parking space would never have reached its now present necessity.

"The parking ordinance that has been brought into service in the city of Lincoln is going to work a hardship on every person who rents space in these large buildings. The two hour limit will require them to run down and move their cars, if for only a few feet, or 'just around the corner.' This does not, in the main, look right, and in some respects the business men have a right to kick and kick hard, but what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, and we must all abide by the law for the good of all.

"Now if these men who caused to be erected these office buildings could have looked forward to this day, the parking system would have been one of the slightest questions of the day, for each and every building would have parking space enough for each occupant of the building to place their cars in a garage underneath the building, even if they had to encroach a little on the street space, always in their place and off the street, and safe and sound from theft or accident.

"While the new system of parking will work a hardship upon thousands of citizens, yet the present congestion on the principal streets is getting to be a most alarming situation, and some steps must be taken to relieve this congestion."

(May 2004)



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