I usually like to think of what it would be if time travel was possible. What would we tell someone who wanted to see what the twenties, forties or maybe even an era as recent as the sixties was like when they looked at the tech savvy world that humanity has managed to carve for itself? How would we explain some of the choices we have made as far as life’s activities are concerned? Well, technology might be frowned upon by many but if asked, I would like to think that life has become better over the years. We can now send messages in a blink of an eye which is much better than sending smoke signals and yes, even snail mail. There is a reason it has been likened to one of the slowest moving animals on earth. But I digress. Let us talk about parking lots.

There was a time when people parked their vehicles in front of their homes or places of work but with the development of cities that came with urbanization, parking slowly turned into a nightmare. A building that houses thirty to fifty businesses and maybe a hundred or even two hundred employees could no longer handle people parking on the street. If a single street had ten to twelve buildings on either side, each housing around fifty to a hundred employees, that street would be a mess to get through and perhaps this is what gave rise to parking facilities.

The earliest known car parking facility, also known as multi-storey parking facility was in London in 1901 and then seventeen years later in the United States. However, over time, it became clear that these buildings needed to be more than just car storage facilities since they were quite costly to put up and land owners needed their money’s worth. Paid parking became something prospective owners had in mind considering the construction costs. After this, it was pretty easy for other companies to adapt the paid parking system. It is important to note that among the businesses that have benefited the most from paid parking are airports. For a long time, you needed to have someone drop you off and pick you up at the airport but with paid parking, it became easier for frequent travellers who did not want to constantly inconvenience their loved ones or rely on cabs every other day they travelled. Long term parking lots have been since been adapted by various businesses as well as countries across the globe. They are especially common in emerging market countries such as Japan, China and Singapore especially because of their space saving quality.

In a very short time, parking facilities have gone from being manually operated where patrons did not actually go into the facility but instead gave their keys to parking attendants who in turn went ahead to park the cars to being automated where you just drive onto a platform and basically, everything else is done for you. Automated and paid car parking facilities have made parking at locations such as The Domain Car Park near St Mary's Cathedral much easier and stress free. It is also good to note however that there are a good number of countries that still use the manual operated parking system. Even some of the most technologically inclined countries have just a few of these self-parking facilities.  

As it is, we may think that we are quite advanced, but then again, wouldn’t it be fun to take a stp back in fifty years to see what kind of parking facilities they have then?