“Pigeonhole” Parking Lot (Aug, 1951)

I don’t suppose anyone from Spokane knows if this is still there?

“Pigeonhole” Parking Lot
Four times as many cars are parked in a Spokane, Wash., parking lot with a rampless garage in which cars are delivered to parking stalls by elevator. The customer drives up to a receiving stall. A platform reaches out, lifts the car onto the elevator which rolls along a track between the two parking racks. The elevator lifts the car to the desired level and rolls it into the parking stall. The unit parks a car in the most distant stall in 60 seconds!

  1. Githyanki says: February 11, 20082:47 am

    Dont know about Spokane, but I saw one while walking around in New York yesterday.

  2. jayessell says: February 11, 20084:29 am

    There’s a “Closer Than You Think!” with this somewhere.
    It looks like a 20 floor auto vending machine.

  3. Rick Auricchio says: February 11, 20081:20 pm

    A system like this was featured in the 1980 Burt Lancaster film “Atlantic City.” There’s a chase scene on it, with the two guys jumping from one platform to another, while the elevators are moving.

    The film was shot on location, at the time when A.C. was in the process of its rebirth. There’s construction, a great building implosion, and old buildings being torn down.

  4. Jason says: February 11, 20084:04 pm

    I live in washington state and was fascinated by this story so I did a little research. Here is some more info about the story:


    It seems that the original company is long out of business, but here is a new one:


    Thanks for the interesting story.

  5. Gryffyn says: February 11, 20086:26 pm

    There’s some little tiny (thought it was 18 car, but found a note saying 9 car) ‘robotic’ parking garage thingy in downtown Annapolis, MD.

    I couldn’t find an online article about it, but found one about robot parking garages in NYC where a comment mentions the Annapolis one:


    (btw: the Annapolis one has it’s entrance on State Circle, I believe.. not sure if you can see it from Main Street or not)

  6. Eric Smith says: February 12, 20085:28 pm

    There’s something like this across from our office on 21st street in NY. Only two levels though. Something to watch while you’re on hold.

  7. Firebrand38 says: February 13, 20088:11 pm

    Thanks for the research. I always appreciate followups on these pieces where applicable.

  8. Erik Schubach says: February 22, 200810:16 am

    According to the Library of Congress, there is still one operational Pigeon Hole Parking left in Venezuela. The ones in Spokane, WA are long gone.

  9. David Sanders says: May 21, 200811:09 am

    One of the original inventors is still alive in Spokane…Vaughn. He’s my uncle. He and my (late) father started Pigeonhole Parking. There’s still a structure in Portland, Oregon too, though not operational. On Stark Street or some such downtown.

  10. Jose Ferreyra says: June 23, 200811:28 am

    I would like to contact Mr David Sanders, and his uncle, Vaughn, I do not know if it is possible but I am working with parking systems.
    Thank you very much

  11. Bob McMackin says: January 15, 20096:18 pm

    I have found a stock certificate dated 14 May 1959 for Pigeon Hole Parking Inc. Does it have any value?

  12. David Sanders says: March 29, 20104:37 pm

    To Bob McMackin,

    No, they don’t have any value of which I am aware, other than sentimental. If you still have the certificate, I would love to acquire it. I’d like to give it to one of my brothers (frame it, matte it, etc) as a gift.

    Dave Sanders

  13. Ralph says: May 16, 20103:37 pm

    To David Saunders,

    I have just completed 10 years of permitting for a waterfront project near Seattle, designed around a 24-space mechanical parking system of my own design using modern materials and without pallets. Potential investors are asking why parking machines disappeared from the U.S. decades ago. I don’t know what to tell them! I woiuld love to talk to you or Vaugn for a bit to get some flavor of why the machines (from all manufacturers, apparently) fell out of favor. By the way, I grew up back east and have vague memories of parking in an indoor mechanized garage in Boston on numerous occasions when I was 3 feet tall.

    My phone number is area code two zero six, local number six one seven, three eight four eight.

  14. Sheila says: July 15, 201012:55 pm

    There was also one in Harrisburg, PA. It’s gone now and I have no idea when it was torn down or why.
    I have worked with related systems and the one thing that most forget when they are in the design phase is ‘what is the longest time it takes to replace any one part especially when it is in the worst possible location in the structure’. People waiting for cars don’t have a sense of humor after the first hour.
    I have seen some incredible crashes.

  15. Ralph says: July 15, 20102:14 pm


    A lot of thought has been given to just that subject, i.e. to having designed in a “second way out” to the couryard that bypasses the turntable and the normal vehicular lobby. I have even designed a “second way in” in case, for example, the turntable jams while turning around a vehicle on its way to the lift. Provisions have also been made to handle a failed lift. In larger systems, it’s possible to put two lifts in the lift aisle such that they can pass one another, even while loaded with vehicles.

    i’d be interested in specifics of your “incredible crashes.” I hope you’re referring to software crashes, not vehicle-to-vehicle or vehicle to structure, crashes. My contact info is above.

  16. NancyJ says: June 30, 20118:33 pm

    I am a tenant in a large office building in Spokane, WA located at the corner of Sixth and Stevens. I just learned that the mysterious second half of the building (9 stories tall) that doesn’t have windows is in fact a boarded up lift-designed parking garage. The building was extremely modern in it’s design in 1960 but the lift only was operational for 3 years. Apparently there is still one Cadillac entombed on one of the higher levels, unable to be reached by the crane that took the rest out when the lift broke and couldn’t be repaired.

    My summer quest is to find a way to get inside and see the inner workings if at all possible.

    I would also be interested in why lift-specific parking fell out of favor. Maybe Americans are too impatient with the inevitable operational ‘pauses’ that occur w/ mechanical systems.

  17. Ralph says: June 30, 20119:37 pm


    I made the comment above yours almost a year ago and am still monitoring this blog. Since what you found is in Spokane, perhaps it’s something from Pigeonhole Parking. I’d like to take a trip across the mountains from Seattle to see it. My phone # is further above in words. BTW, I now have other projects with parking machines in various stages of design.

    Be careful about climbing the machine — according to OSHA statistics, 70% of all falls from a mere 15 feet up are fatal. Moreover, any part on unmaintained structure that old could fail at any time.

  18. NancyJ says: July 1, 20113:57 pm

    Hi Ralph,
    Why don’t you give me a call and I can fill you in on the details. I got onto the top floor today and was able to see the lift operations but the door to the main floor is locked. Still trying to get a hold of the building guy to get inside. I was told it was a German-made lift, not the Pigeon-Hole one, which doesn’t make sense as Pigeon-Hole was right here in Spokane.

    My cell is ___-___-____.

    I have no plans to climb the machine though it is rumored that there is a Cadillac still about 6 stories up. Couldn’t get it out w/ the crane they brought in to get out the other cars.

  19. NancyJ says: July 1, 20114:00 pm

    Are you aware of this story? I see you’re a developer:



  20. NancyJ says: July 5, 20119:06 am

    Sorry I haven’t returned your call. Very busy at work. The top of the parking garage for some reason is a cement floor. It is not the top of a metal structure. All the lift and motor mechanics are housed up there. I am hearing the garage is not a true pigeon-hole system but a German system that placed cars on floors, not in a cage. So more to learn. That’s about all I know at this point! Hoping to get inside one of these days.

    Here is a link to a photo of our building. We have the ninth floor. You can see the parking garage on the left there. They put boards between the floors to create a seamless look.



  21. Radio Wendy says: April 24, 201211:13 pm

    I also have a stock certificate for Pigeon Hole Parking in Spokane. I would be interested in learning more about the original company. Someone had posted about collecting these for sentimental value. Perhaps that person could respond to my post about more information?

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