No, I didn’t spend my day outside measuring parking lots. I spent it inside measuring existing, available data from OpenStreetMap. The last time I measured the amount of parking area in Chicagoland was on September 16, 2018, using the same data source.

Using the footprints of parking lots and garages drawn into OpenStreetMap as a data source, the area of land in a portion of Chicagoland occupied by parking lots and garages is 254,429,609 square feet. This portion represents the “envelope” of the Chicago city limits.

This map shows the tan-colored “clipping boundary” envelope in which the parking lots were measured. The Chicago city limits are shown in pink.

Last year it was 247,539,968 square feet, so the measured area of this portion of Chicagoland’s parking lots and garages increased by a hair over 2.7 percent. This isn’t necessarily new parking areas, but it’s parking areas that have been documented and mapped.

254,429,609 square feet converts to:

  • 5,841 acres
  • 9.13 mi^2 (square miles)
  • 23.64 km^2 (square kilometers)

Looking at just the City of Chicago limits, though, the land area of Chicago occupied by already-mapped parking lots and garages is 163,995,621 square feet, or about 2.5 percent of Chicago’s area.

That converts to:

  • 3,765 acres
  • 6.56 mi^2 (square miles)
  • 14.76 km^2 (square kilometers)
  • 2.5% area of Chicago is parking (Chicago’s land area is ~589.56 km^2 )

Want to make your own analysis? Here’s the study area I used, formatted as GeoJSON:

{"type": "Polygon", "coordinates": [[[-87.94, 41.639999999999986], [-87.94, 42.02000000000001], [-87.52, 42.02000000000001], [-87.52, 41.639999999999986], [-87.94, 41.639999999999986]]]}