Topic: District 11 Book Club Discussion on "Paved Paradise: How Parking Explains the World" (2023) by Henry Grabar
When: Wednesday, October 25, 2023 from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm
Where: Meeting Rooms A at the Sequoya Library 4340 Tokay Blvd Madison, WI 53711
Turning surface parking lots for cars into new housing for people
The growth of District 11 in the late 1950’s coincided with the increasing availability and conveniences of automobiles for the average Madison family. Wide four-lane boulevards, curved residential streets to discourage speeding, two car attached garages, and large surface parking lots became distinctive characteristics here on what was then farmland in the far West side of Madison. As local business moved into the area, everything residents needed was now just a short drive away.
The first shopping mall to open in our area was Midvale Shopping Mall in 1957 in what is now Sequoya Commons. In 1960, Westgate shopping mall followed at 600 South Whitney Way with 30 stores and parking for 1,000 cars. The Hilldale Shopping Mall opened just two years later with more than double the amount of stores and parking spaces for shoppers. This abundance of free parking at our area shopping malls had a significant impact on downtown Madison as city planners sought to lure shoppers back to the city center by creating more parking.
Today, the acres of land that were once paved over for free parking are now being turned into apartment and condominium units for people, with limited surface parking and underground parking for tenants. Sequoya Commons, University Park (former Westgate Shopping Mall), Madison Yards, and now the former M&I bank building at Hilldale Mall are examples of places that decided to turn surface parking lots for cars into new housing for people.
Book cover for Paved Paradise: How Parking Explains the WorldTo examine how parking has shaped our community and to perhaps provide us with a roadmap on the direction our city is heading, starting this fall, I will be hosting a District 11 book club. The first book we will be reading is, Paved Paradise: How Parking Explains the World (2023) by Henry Grabar. Contact me at if you are interested in participating in the book discussion or just show up on Wednesday, October 25th at 7:00 with friends and your copy of the book for a lively discussion about parking.
A limited supply of the book is available for check out at the Sequoya Library.
District 11 Alder, City of Madison
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