Looking out at the forlorn parking lot on the corner of 14th and Lucas Avenue in downtown, my thoughts began to wander to what once occupied the block bounded by Washington, 15th, Lucas and 14th. Looking at the Sanborn maps, it appears that the block once held an abundance of houses, a church and school, and perhaps dozens of businesses.
Admittedly, the living conditions might not have been the best, but I have to wonder if an auto repair shop and surface parking is the best use of the land.
Surely downtown will not be as vibrant as we wish until parking lots become less desirable for property owners than new houses and businesses. I can vouch as an employee of an institution on this block that most of the parking sits empty most of the week.
But for the time being, I’ll imagine the clip-clop of horseshoes on the cobblestones and the sounds of children playing in the alleys of what was once a vibrant and bustling block.