Book Buzz: Paved Paradise

Paved Paradise: How Parking Explains the World by Henry Grabar

Why are so many places expensive, unsafe, and unwalkable? In Paved Paradise: How Parking Explains the World, journalist Henry Grabar argues that in most American towns, the answer is parking.  

In chapters that read like podcast episodes (think 99% Invisible or Planet Money), this book digs into the reasons why our culture became so car-centric. Grabar’s eye for compelling anecdotes turns what could otherwise be dry topic into a wild journey through American history. For example: did you know that parking tickets fueled New York City’s “Ice Cream Truck Wars”? Grabar also introduces readers to local heroes worth rooting for, like a Chicago pastor whose plan to build a church in his walkable neighborhood is foiled by parking minimums.  

Paved Paradise illuminates how parking is connected to so many social forces: affordable housing, public safety, pollution, and the prosperity of our downtowns. You’ll never look at the parking lot the same way again.  

Reviewed by Emma Radosevich, collection development librarian, Whatcom County Library System

(Originally published in Bellingham Alive February 2024 issue.)