Why Parking in Manhattan is Getting Worse... and Why It's Not Necessarily a Bad Thing

Published on Feb 24, 2012


Parking in Manhattan has never been easy, or been something that most New Yorkers have had to deal with. Yes, there are plenty of residents of NYC rental apartments who insist upon having a car--and swear that they enjoy the experience, too--but in most parts of Manhattan and big chunks of Brooklyn, these car-owning folks are in the distinct minority.

In fact, even in some of the wealthiest parts of Manhattan, such as Tribeca, the West Village, and the Upper East Side, well over 70% of all households are "car-free", and in many Manhattan communities that figure hits 82% or more.

Of course, there are many solid reasons why residents of Manhattan rental apartments in particular have never embraced the "car = freedom" part of the American dream, including the city's excellent public transportation, the increasingly bike-friendly commute, and the typically enormous amounts and variety of great things to see and do and eat within easy walking or subway distance from your home, no matter where that home might be.

Really: if you're moving to Manhattan for the first time--and especially if you're looking for ways to save some money (car payments, insurance, gas... there's three big ones right there!)--sell your vehicle BEFORE you arrive, and join the great un-carred masses of this town.


Still not convinced? Maybe an article recently in the New York Times about the bad-and-getting-worse state of parking in Manhattan will help. Because although parking on the streets is no longer the crap shoot it once was in the 1970s and 1980s, in a "will my car still be here in the morning?" sense--car theft in Manhattan is down an astonishing 93% since 1990--Manhattan rental apartments residents who park on the street still face cumbersome alternate-side-of-the-street parking regulations, not to mention a supply of convenient, empty spaces that vastly under-meets demand.

Basically, it can be a real pain to rely on street parking in this borough. And as the Times article points out, even if you can afford (or want to spend your hard-earned money on) parking in a garage--and as a Manhattan resident is quoted as saying, “near my apartment [on 74th and Columbus] there is no way you are ever going to get something south of $500 a month”--off-street parking, no matter the cost, is simply getting more and more difficult to find.


In the past three decades, says the Times, Manhattan has lost nearly one-fifth of its off-street spaces, a trend that has only been escalating, thanks in no small part to condo and luxury rental apartment development. In the last six years, for example, 92 stand-alone parking lots and garages in Manhattan have been sold, torn down, and built over.

Many but by no means all of these luxury buildings going up offer parking to their residents... to the tune of more than $200,000 if bought outright or more than $1,000 a month if rented. That's for a parking space! And these days developers need special permits if they want to offer more than 20% of their residents a parking space.

It's all part of a city-wide effort to discourage NYC residents from using a car to get around town, and, somewhat counter-intuitively, it makes Manhattan one of the most "carbon-neutral" places to live in the country. So forget parking in Manhattan, and ditch the car. You're not just helping yourself by leaving your car beyond when you move here... you're helping the planet, too.

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