Chicago parking meters were privatized last year in a deal which was pretty awful for everyone but Morgan Stanley. The new deal came with a new physical apparatus, boxy pay-and-display machines that take credit cards.
What happened to the traditional mounted gray houses? I took this picture on my cell phone at 55th Street and Kenwood:
“METER REMAINS AS A COURTESY TO CYCLISTS. PLEASE PAY AT PAY BOX.” Though no longer serving as quarter-banks, the parking meters remain as bike lock-up posts, aids to another form of transportation. The city even provides an illustration of how to position a bicycle to lock it to the meter.
How long will this last? Will there be a time when the original function of the traditional parking meter is entirely obsolete and its bike post function primary? One could imagine other apparatuses of urban transportation taking on new functions in their proper obsolescence: El stations repurposed as helicopter docks? Underwater canals in the subway?
On a similar note, a footnote to a recent article in the venerable LRB directs the reader to a discussion of a certain point “on the Channel 4 website, if you Google ‘factcheck end to boom and bust’.” Perhaps John Lanchester was too lazy to look up the link? At any rate this reluctance even to signal the coming print obsolescence in actually providing the link–to the website of a TV station–only further emphasizes the weakness of the medium. Or perhaps it is an attempt at a statement of revolt: denying print’s coming function as only an ancillary vestige to a superior form, like the eerie ads in the print edition for the LRB blog.