They were the Golden Days of the East Bank.
Nope, we’re not talking about the years when the structural integrity of bustling clubs was threatened by the awkward ass-backing of suburbanites singing along to “Country Grammar.” No, the real halcyon period for the Flats happened later, when river wind was already pushing through the broken windows of all those empty hot-spots. And for those of us who got to know it, — the lucky few — it was a belle epoque that faded too soon.
It was reasonable parking.
Until recently down in the Flats, for a good rate and an uphill climb, you could find monthly parking without having to frack your weekly pay or leave the keys with an attendant who looked like a hungover Mickey Rourke. Along the curving banks and in the shadows of the overpasses, those scarred backtops were a workingman’s sanctuary from the price-inflated lots in the trendier parts of downtown. Sure, it was a little disconcerting to leave your car in an area where the only boom industry is stripping. But every morning was water-cooler fodder: How many of your other co-workers could claim they’d seen another forgotten crack pipe on the walk in? Or trace the progress of last night’s cat fight by the pieces of yanked-out weaves scattered down the hill like bread crumbs?
But then the casino 86’d the whole thing.
The downtown parking barons saw the score coming: With the Horseshoe set to open, they jacked up the price of admission at the lots ringing Public Square. Now, all you daily commuters who used to hoist up your noses at the idea of parking “down” in the Flats are taking your business to the river bank.
And like all immigration stories, it’s the natives who get screwed. Rates in the Flats are rising. Cop cars, usually only around for a mid-shift snooze, are everywhere. Leave your car in a three-hour parking zone, you actually might get a ticket. And the cherry on this sundae? The lots are crammed. Instead of the smattering of gently dented Civics and Subarus, the lots are now chocked to capacity with carpet-bagging BMWs and Acuras, double-parked Navigators, and weekend warrior choppers parked horizontally.
Flats parking: Now everybody’s doing it.