The Central Business District

  1. Improved Access Required For Greater Traffic Volume And For Many More Parking Facilities
  2. Adequate Parking Facilities
  3. Express Highways
  4. Traffic Regulations

Adequate Parking Facilities

Twenty-five years ago the daily movement of persons in and out of the central business district was provided for almost exclusively by the streetcar. It would be necessary to provide subways for street cars in the central business district to accommodate present and future daily traffic flow if no other means of transportation were available. The introduction of automobile traffic however has produced an entirely new situation. Not only is a considerable percentage of persons now transported by private automobile but approximately one-half the total of all persons using public transportation are carried by motor bus and trolley coach.

The changing characteristics of traffic flow into the St. Louis central business district are shown in Table Number XIII.

Since more than one half of the persons entering the business district now use private automobiles, and since private automobiles consume from six to eight times as much street space per passenger as the public vehicles, it is small wonder that abnormal traffic congestion problems have arisen. It is apparent that only a very small percentage of the total number of private automobiles entering the central business district can be accommodated on the narrow public streets. A vast amount of parking space for the accommodation of individual automobile traffic is imperative. The location of this parking space is an important planning function which if well devised will serve to enormously reduce the amount of private automobile traffic flow on business district streets. Provision of this parking space, if not undertaken by private enterprise, may be forced upon the city as a public function. It is the modern substitute for subway construction.

Table Number XIII
Persons Entering St. Louis Central Business District
7 A.M. - 7 P.M. Daily
1916 - 1946
Persons Entering Central Business District (In Thousands) a)
Year Automobile Street Car Bus Miscellaneous Total
1916 b) 31 149 - - 180
1926 c) 71 158 18 28 275
1937 d) 140 84 37 49 310
1941 e) 150 90 45 50 335
1946 160 e) 110 f) 65 f) 40 e) 375

a) Pedestrians excluded.
b) Traffic count of district bounded by Franklin, Fourth, Market, and Twelfth Streets.
c) Traffic count of district bounded by Franklin, First, Poplar, and Eighteenth Streets.
d) Traffic count of district bounded by Franklin, Fourth, Market, and Twelfth Streets adjusted to compare with the large 1926 area.
e) Estimated for district bounded by Franklin, Third, Clark, and Eighteenth Streets. fSt. Louis Public Service Company.

A recent survey discloses that there are slightly less than 26,000 automobile parking spaces within and immediately adjacent to the central business district. Of these, 20,100 spaces are off-street and 5,600 are curb spaces. See Plate Number 28.

The number of parking spaces available in and adjacent to the central business districts of certain other large American cities was obtained from their City Plan Commissions. This data is shown in Table Number XIV. It is significant that the number of parking spaces per 1,000 metropolitan district population is lower in the extremely large cities and generally higher in the cities of smallersize. It has been more difficult to provide parking space in the larger cities because of greater land costs.

Table Number XIV
Existing Parking Facilities In And Adjacent To Selected Central Business Districts
Number of Existing Parking Spaces Existing Parking Spaces Per 1,000 Metropolitan District
Cities 1940 Metropolitan District Population Garages Lots Curb Total Population
Chicago 4,499,126 11,175 16,345 3,959 a) 31,479 7.0
Los Angeles 2,904,596 11,452 28,008 6,250 45,710 15.7
Philadelphia 2,898,644 7,764 13,919 4,800 26,483 9.1
Boston 2,350,514 6,300 6,305 4,000 16,605 7.1
Detroit 2,295,867 7,000 24,200 4,835 36,035 15.7
San Francisco 1,428,525 11,595 6,205 4,800 22,600 15.8
ST. LOUIS 1,367,977 8,155 11,960 5,639 25,754 18.8
Cleveland 1,214,943 9,000 16,000 2,500 27,500 22.6
Dallas 376,548 8,169 6,721 2,349 17,239 45.8

a) Also 5,351 additional spaces illegally used.

There are as yet no generally accepted standards for the total amount of automobile parking space that should be provided in cities. Large private commercial concerns, such as chain stores, first established a ratio of one square foot of parking space for each square foot of commercial floor area. In more recent practice some private concerns have increased this ratio to two or more square feet of parking space for each square foot of commercial floor area.

There are at present approximately 7,000,000 square feet of retail and office space in the central business district of St. Louis. At a ratio of one square foot of parking space for each square foot of commercial floor area there is present need for 28,000 parking spaces. There is somewhat less available space today (25,750). The present supply will be diminished as further restriction on curb parking space becomes necessary and as vacant lots now used for parking purposes are used for new building construction. The present total of 25,750 spaces will probably be reduced to about 17,500. In order to meet these losses and also to meet additional future needs due to increased metropolitan population and greater use of the automobile it is estimated that there will be required a total of 37,000. This means a minimum of 19,500 new parking spaces should be provided.

In order to reduce congestion on the streets of the business district it is necessary that large parking areas be provided on each side of the district where approaching traffic may find accommodation without entering the business district. Public transportation from these parking areas through the business district should be provided. This need has already been anticipated by the shuttle bus service recently established by the Public Service Company.

It is not possible to provide ample parking accommodations within the confines of the central business district. Provision for all-day parking should be made at the borders of the business district and this should be supplemented by some facilities for short time parking within the district.

A plan of proposed parking areas is shown by Plate Number 29. Legislation should be secured to permit public acquisition of these areas and for construction of multiple level garages either by public or private enterprise. To a large extent the cost of acquisition, improvement and operation of these proposed parking facilities can be made self supporting.

BackLast section Next sectionNext