“This is the past of parking in America” might have been David Morton’s introduction to the Summit Grand Parc’s parking-garage story (“The Auto Automat,” 12/13). Right around the corner, at 1826 K St., is a relic of the first time Washington took the lead in automated parking. In 1950 or so, this tall, skinny structure was built to accommodate the latest parking technology: You could drive in and a single attendant would push a couple of buttons to whisk your car up and away to its appointed slot, untouched by human hands—almost the same as the Grand Parc, but 50 years earlier. There was a great hoopla over the imminent revolution in American parking habits.
It didn’t last very long. Labor costs were, of course, low for attendants but high for the technicians, who were constantly on call. The garage shut down within a few years, though it was a long time before the machinery was removed. The building has been a loser for 50 years, but it may finally be put out of its misery by the projected redevelopment of its site, along with its ’60s-hideous next-door neighbor.