No Place To Park: The Uneasy Relationship Between a City and its Cars

Yiling L. Chen-Josephson, Yale Law School

Abstract

In 1951, Richard C. Lee, a man who was soon to become one of the most famous mayors in America, addressed “one of the major problems of [his] community” at a meeting of New Haven, Connecticut’s Democratic Town Committee: I cannot state too strongly that I consider this situation to be extremely serious…. [It] is sapping the lifeblood of our midtown business area and it takes little imagination to see how this, in a vicious progression, will gradually work against the well-being of all the other segments of our integrated community life.…New Haven is not alone in its disease. Nearly all large American cities have been afflicted….A situation which is hurting our downtown business life should and must be corrected; this is a basic essential to civic betterment, and all citizens will share in that betterment.

Lee was not talking about crime, unemployment, inflation, racial tensions, or the slums he would become known for razing and “redeveloping.” Instead, he was talking about parking.