It’s been three years since I last measured how much of Chicago’s land area is occupied by parking lots and parking garages. On December 25, 2019, using data drawn into OpenStreetMap by volunteers including myself, 2.5 percent of Chicago was for car parking.
Based on additional data since then, the land area of Chicago occupied by already-mapped parking lots and garages is 176,973,866.57 square feet, or about 2.7 percent of Chicago’s area.
This means that 0.52 additional square miles have been drawn into OpenStreetMap. If it hasn’t been drawn there, we can’t measure it. This means this number is a *minimum* of the land area devoted to car parking in Chicago.
That converts to:
7.08 mi^2 (square miles)
15.93km^2 (square kilometers)
2.7% area of Chicago is parking (Chicago’s land area is ~589.56 km^2 )
There are some future parking -> building conversions coming soon. The buildings will be providing parking, but it will be integrated into a mixed-use development. The parking lot in the image, for example, is slated to become an office tower.
I was methodically reviewing features on OpenStreetMap that could benefit from additional attributes, namely missing names and cities. The information on OpenStreetMap feeds into Chicago Cityscape so that the real estate information service I created can show people looking up addresses the locations of nearby amenities, including parks.
This particularly large park in Des Plaines had no name and no city, so I started investigating. From the overhead imagery view, it looked to me like a landfill.
Since there was a forest preserve to the east, I looked in the Forest Preserve District of Cook County’s nice interactive map for any properties near Beck Lake. Nothing found.
I looked on Google Maps Street View for some insight and there was no name. (Note that data from Google Maps cannot be used to amend OpenStreetMap because of Google Maps having a data license that isn’t compatible with OSM’s openness requirements).
Next I looked at the Cook County parcel map that Chicago Cityscape has to identify its “Property Index Number” (PIN). All of it fits within 04-31-300-003-0000 – the database pointed to “Catholic Cemeteries” as the property owner.
I looked up that PIN on the Cook County Recorder of Deeds to try and find more information. Lo and behold, the most recent document that was recorded against the PIN was for a “Memorandum of Option Agreement” that identified the Catholic Bishop of Chicago as the landlord and Patriot Acres, LLC, as the tenant.
Using the footprints of parking lots and garages drawn into OpenStreetMap as a data source, the area of land in Chicagoland occupied by parking lots and garages is 247,539,968 square feet. (The data was exported using HOT Export Tool; you can replicate my export.)
Andrew Huff pointed out some archaic neighborhood names he saw on a map that was generated using Carto. The company’s map “tiles” use free and open source data from OpenStreetMap, “the Wikipedia of maps”.
I’m going to tell you where these names come from!
I had a similar question as Andrew several years ago. (Note: I’m a very active OpenStreetMap editor, and I add/change/delete things from the map multiple times a week.)
First, we have to find that place name in the OpenStreetMap database, after which we can discover its provenance. The best way to do this is to search Nominatim, the “debugging search engine” for OSM.
That details page still doesn’t tell us what we need to know, but there’s a link called that starts with “node” that leads deeper into the OSM database.
On the page “Node: Summerdale (153430485)” there are a bunch of “tags” that describe this place’s record in the OSM database. Some of those tags start with “gnis”, which is an abbreviation for “GeoNames Information System”, commonly shortened to GeoNames.
GNIS is managed by the U.S. Board of Geographic Names, which is part of the United States Department of Interior’s U.S. Geological Survey (commonly known as USGS).
We can use the GNIS Feature Search site to look up Summerdale by name or ID. (Using name is easier, and I recommend narrowing it to the state of Illinois.)
There are four results for “Summerdale” in Illinois, and two are in Cook County, and one of these is a church, and the other a “populated place”. We want the populated place result.
Here’s where our journey ends, because this result page tells the citation of how “Summerdale” got to be in a United States federal government database of place names.
Hauser, Philip M. and Evelyn M. Kitigawa, editors. Local Community Fact Book for Chicago 1950. Chicago, Illinois : University of Chicago, 1953. p18
You can find that book in the Newberry library. Request it on their computer and a librarian will fetch and bring it to you. I did that in 2015.
Here’s what that book looks like, and you can see “Summerdale” mentioned at the end of the third paragraph on the page for the Uptown community area (which is an official place with a permanent boundary):
During the 1870’s and 1880’s, Uptown was still predominantly open country. The area east of Clark Street, from Montrose to devon, was a farming community. At each of the station that had been opened on the Chicago and Milwaukee line –at Argyle, Berwyn, Bryn Mawr and Devon Avenues–there were a few frame residences. West of Clark Street, a substantial portion of the land was swampy. Scattered settlements, chiefly the frame cottages of railroad employees, appeared along the Northwestern railroad tracks. An important factor in the growth of this area was the opening of the Ravenswood station at Wilson Avenue. The opening of another station on this line at Foster Avenue, eventually gave his to the settlement of Summerdale.
I haven’t answered Andrew’s other question, on why Lincoln Square or Uptown, official community areas with permanent boundaries, don’t show on Carto’s map.
That’s because no one has imported these boundaries or these place names into OpenStreetMap. You can do it, and here’s how.
I redesigned the static maps that are shown on Chicago Cityscape’s Place pages to tone down their harsh hues, and change what data (which comes from OpenStreetMap) is shown.
All 2,800 maps are automatically generated using a program called MOATP (“Map of all the places”) which is based on Neil Freeman’s svgis program. Both programs are open source.
The map now shows all roads; it was awkward to see so many empty spaces between buildings. Secondary* and residential roads are shown with slightly less thickness than primary and motorway roads. Also included are multi-use trails in parks.
Parks and grass are shown in different hues of green, although I don’t think it’s distinctive enough to know there’s a difference. Cemeteries remain a darker green.
I’ve changed the building color to soften the harsh brown. Only named buildings and schools appear, which is why you see a lot of gaps. Most buildings outside downtown aren’t named.
Retail areas have been added in a soft, salmon and tan-like color to show where “activity” areas in each Place.