Pittsburgh Parking Lot Booths and Their Attendants by Tom M Johnson

Issue 86

One of my first commissions in Pittsburgh was to photograph the parking lots in Pittsburgh’s Cultural District.  On a chilly late December afternoon as the turquoise sky gave way to the city lights I was struck by the isolation of a parking lot attendant sitting in his booth.  Through the booth’s weathered Plexiglas I sensed his melancholy; alone with nothing other than his thoughts to keep him company. Like this man I am often alone and isolated.  I felt a connection to him.

Pittsburgh is a commuter city with marginal public transportation, so most commuters drive into the city from Pittsburgh’s surrounding suburbs and are in need of a place to park.   Around lower Pittsburgh there are many parking lots, some large and corporate others small and privately owned.  Many are ground level lots that are typically tended to by a single attendant, whose job it is to take payment and organize the coming and going of the commuters.

I am drawn to the architecture of the booths because they fit nicely within my preferred format: square.  I photograph them not as obscure structures, rather I take their portraits as I see them as animate objects with a unique character developed from years of harsh climate and from hosting multiple tenants.

This project is an equal study of both the booth and the attendant. Their relationship is symbiotic: the attendant needs the booth for comfort and function; the booth needs its occupant for significance.

Tom M Johnson lives and works in Pittsburgh, PA.
To view more of Tom's work, please visit his website.

 John: Fort Duquesne Blvd. & 8th St.

John: Fort Duquesne Blvd. & 8th St.

 Adam: Fort Pitt Blvd. & Market St.

Adam: Fort Pitt Blvd. & Market St.

 Ali: Blvd of the Allies & Stanwix St.

Ali: Blvd of the Allies & Stanwix St.

 Mohammed: Blvd. of the Allies & Stanwix St.

Mohammed: Blvd. of the Allies & Stanwix St.

 Ahmed: 3rd Ave. & Grant St.

Ahmed: 3rd Ave. & Grant St.

 Frank: 4th Ave. & Ross St.

Frank: 4th Ave. & Ross St.

 Alec: Forbes Ave. & Grant St.

Alec: Forbes Ave. & Grant St.

 Alex: Andy Warhol Museum

Alex: Andy Warhol Museum

 Christopher: 2nd Ave. & B St.

Christopher: 2nd Ave. & B St.

 Eric: Penn Ave. & 13th St.

Eric: Penn Ave. & 13th St.

 Gary: Penn Ave. & 13th St.

Gary: Penn Ave. & 13th St.

 Molly_Winter: 1st Ave. & Wood St.

Molly_Winter: 1st Ave. & Wood St.

 Molly_Summer: 1st Ave. & Wood St.

Molly_Summer: 1st Ave. & Wood St.

 Nathan: Marion St. & Locust St.

Nathan: Marion St. & Locust St.

 Phil and Clinton: Penn Ave. & 9th St.

Phil and Clinton: Penn Ave. & 9th St.

 Ron: Liberty Ave. & Garrison Pl.

Ron: Liberty Ave. & Garrison Pl.

 Sue: 3rd Ave. & Grant St.

Sue: 3rd Ave. & Grant St.

 Taylor: Penn Ave. & 20th St.

Taylor: Penn Ave. & 20th St.

 John: 21st St. & Smallman St.

John: 21st St. & Smallman St.

 Kenny: 2nd Ave. & 10th St. Bridge

Kenny: 2nd Ave. & 10th St. Bridge