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The Spectacular Waste of Half-Empty Black Friday Parking Lots

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A retail parking lot in Palm Beach, Florida, on the busiest shopping day of the year. Photo: @aGuyonClematus
The responding officers and the crosswalk enforcement volunteers. Images: Twitter user @Nova99999 and Chicago, Bike Grid Now!

If there's one thing American planners fear, it's that someone, sometime, somewhere, won't be able to immediately find a parking space. Gigantic manuals have been devoted to avoiding this "problem," and laws have been passed in nearly every community in the nation to ensure that no one ever lacks for parking.

Chuck Marohn at Strong Towns started an ingenious, crowd-sourced photo collection to show how absurd the obsession with parking construction has become: pictures of retail parking lots on Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year. We've built so much parking that a lot of spaces remain unused even when demand is at its peak.

For the last two years, Marohn has urged people to take photos of half-empty Black Friday parking lots and tag them on Twitter with the hashtag #blackfridayparking. Here's what they turned up last week.

Marohn himself snapped this Target parking lot (presumably somewhere near his hometown of Brainerd, Minnesota), which at 75 percent occupancy, was actually more full than most the other lots he photographed.

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This is a Kohl's in Conroe, Texas, at 10:45 a.m. on Black Friday, captured by Erika Ragsdale:

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Peoria, Illinois, resident Erik Reader snapped this shot of the Big R western clothing store:

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Reader also captured this majestic asphalt expanse at a Big K Mart in the same region.

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At 3:15 in the afternoon, this Target parking lot in suburban Pittsburgh was less than half full, reports Bob Gradeck:

Did any of you make it out to the stores on Friday? Did any of you have trouble finding a parking space? Did anyone in America have this problem?

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