A letter to the editor to my local weekly newspaper, The [Swarthmore, Pennsylvania] Swarthmorean, starts off this way:
Why is the college not using all the available space on the campus for a new car park?
If the present car park were expanded, it could accommodate many cars.
It was signed “Dorothy Moffett.”
I do not know if Ms. Moffett is British, but I suspect she is, because I have never encountered an American who uses car park instead of one of our two alternatives, parking lot and parking garage.
But I found that the term at one time has some currency in the U.S.–at least among headline writers, who are always looking for ways to trim words and phrases. A 1953 New York Times headline reads “City Set to Start Metered Car Park.”
The only recent U.S.-datelined use in the Times came in a 2011 style-section piece about the Art Basel Miami Beach festival: “The event was originally scheduled to take place at a mansion on Indian Creek Island but ended up, more conveniently and also more appropriately, at the Herzog & de Meuron car park at 1111 Lincoln Road.”
And in that case, parking garage is hardly sufficient. Here is how Wikipedia’s description of the seven-story, $65 million Miami Beach facility begins:
The design has been characterized as resembling a house of cards. It is an open-air structure with no exterior walls constructed around buttresses and cantilevers that features floor heights varying from 8 to 34 feet.Some of the internal ramps are quite steep in order to accommodate the wider height intervals. Elevators and a central, winding staircase take drivers to and from their cars.A glassed-in high-fashion boutique sits on an edge of the fifth floor.The parking garage features retail space at the street level, with tenants such as Maxposure Media Group, and is joined to another structure at the same address that serves as an office for SunTrust Banks.[Developer Robert] Wennett has built a penthouse apartment for himself as part of a 18,000-square-foot (1,700 m2) space on the structure’s roof that also features a pool and gardens with hanging vines.
Now that is a proper car park!