Autos in America: Starship to garage

Parking. Ugh.

I learned yesterday that the inexpensive second-run movie theater my wife and I frequented while living in Lincoln, Nebraska, was demolished and replaced with a parking garage. From what I can tell, the city purchased the theater in order to stimulate growth, apparently in accord with their master plan.

How depressing. In the past I’ve held Lincoln up as a city with a much better planning record than many other cities, perhaps than any other city I’ve lived in. Lincoln has historically been very tight with their policies from what I understand.

Regardless, this seems to be a lazy solution in response to parking congestion downtown. Lincoln has a half decent trail system already in place, as well public transit via bus. Why not encourage people in the community to walk, bike or take the bus? Why not spend money on making these sustainable options more accessible?

I can’t, offhand, find a photograph of this new garage, although Lincoln’s other parking garages do at least look like more than purely utilitarian structures. The Starship, however, was a gem — especially when new. The hallways were black-lit, the dark with glowing flecks of neon. It was, the last time I was there, in need of some TLC.

As I type this, in the Grounds to Go coffee shop on the corner of Anna and Locust in Grand Island, my view out the window includes a car lot, a mid-size asphalt parking lot, a gas station and (yipee) mini-storage. A small yellow house still stands on the corner, trapped by ugly infrastructure necessitated by America’s addiction to automobiles. How much more pleasant it would be if the buildings were against the street and parking behind, with landscaping shading and buffering sidewalks from streets. Of course, I could be at the coffee shop downtown, which organically allows for somewhat more aesthetically pleasing vistas — but even then I would be looking across cars parked along the street.

How is it that, in America (and elsewhere) our communities are basically designed around one thing: The automobile?


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

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