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Pigeon Hole Parking, 1953

by Alethea Drexler, archives assistant
The following letter and brochure come from the Hermann Hospital estate collection, which is immense and has not yet been processed.  I had the project of transferring it into clean archival folders and boxes a few years ago, and I know there are some interesting things hiding among the business letters and bundles of deposit receipts, I just need to find them again.
This just goes to show that parking problems in high-traffic urban settings are not as new a phenomenon as we often think.
I did not find a letter associated with the brochure, so perhaps the material was sent to the Estate unsolicited.  You’ll notice that the words “noisy nuisance” are underlined (in red in on the original), so apparently whoever received it was skeptical.

If you click on the images, you’ll get a larger version.  You should also get a magnifying glass icon that will allow you to enlarge the image once again, so you can read it.

Pigeon Hole Parking!

Here is the concept put to use:

The parking lot of the future?

The lot pictured in the ad seems to have been located at 22 Madison in Spokane, Washington.
Check out those cars!  The car in the front-center-right is a 1951 Buick (easily identified by the port-holes in the front fenders).  The light car to its left is a 1950 Dodge Coronet sedan; the station wagons (one is light-colored and one is dark) on the ends of both rows of the top level of “shelves” are also 1950 Dodge Coronets.  The car on the very end of the far row, next to the light-colored Coronet wagon, is a 1949 Ford, which has distinctive flattened-oval taillights, and will also have an unmistakable bullet grille, if we could see it from the front.
Anyway, here’s how it worked:

An amusement park ride for your car.

And more:

"Proof of Profit"

There are some hints online that there may actually have been a Pigeon Hole garage at Bell and Travis Streets here in Houston.  In general, though, the idea seems not to have caught on.  There are apparently still Pigeon Hole systems in use in South America and Europe, but the few in the U.S. have been replaced by ordinary parking garages.
Read more:
Robotic Parking: The modern version of Pigeon Hole Parking.
YouTube video of a modern robotic parking garage.
Hopefully, the WPA Film Library will have their Pigeon Hole Parking film back up and running soon.