The idea to form a national association for the parking industry took root in 1947, with a series of letters between three men—Charles Gallagher of Dallas, Texas; Fritz Drybrough of Louisville, Ky., and Thomas Gould of Chicago.
In 1951, Gallagher, Gould and Drybrough set forth on a nationwide letter writing campaign to interest enough attendees for a conference of parking owners and operators. They were successful, and the first organizational meeting of the National Parking Association took place at Chicago’s Bismark Hotel on Sept. 13–14, 1951.
An election was held, and B.M. Stanton was chosen as the first president of NPA. Within the first year of operation, committees were in place to establish ethical business standards, promote good public relations and conduct the association’s business.
More than just meeting the needs of the private parking operator, the leaders of NPA were interested in developing long-term relationships with their communities, local public transportation officials, engineers and the federal government.
NPA’s Generations of Parking Professionals
NPA’s archives are filled with names of pioneering families that—through their self-determination and hard work—helped to shape an industry. They include:
Colonial Parking and Landmark Parking
The Hatfield Family — Delaware and Pennsylvania
The Douglas Family — California
Ellis Parking Company
The Ellis Family — Michigan
Harwood Properties LLC
The Harwood Family — New Jersey
Isaacs Family Ltd.
The Isaacs Family — Milwaukee
McLaurin Parking Company
The McLaurin Family — North Carolina
The Miller Family — Detroit
Olympic Auto Park
The Groene Family — Cincinnati
The Zuritsky Family — Philadelphia
St. Louis Parking
The Pohrer Family — St. Louis
The Shepard Family — Pittsburgh
System Parking Inc.
The Phillips Family — Chicago
We thank these family members for their dedication to NPA and to the industry, and look forward to working with future generations!
Even in those early first years, NPA had an organized nucleus around which to operate. A small staff was put together, the first executive director was hired, and an office was established in Washington, D.C. NPA’s quarterly magazine, called Parking, debuted in 1952, and annual meetings have been held every year since 1951.
Over the years, NPA has continued to grow into a dynamic international association. Councils and committees were formed to meet the needs of a growing and increasingly diverse membership. In 1972, the Parking Consultants Council was created to provide an organizational voice within NPA for the professional parking consultant.
The Allied Division was formed to address the needs of suppliers of industry products and services, and the Government, Institutional and Non-Profit (GINP) division provides a forum for the growing numbers of NPA members who are involved in municipal, college and university, and hospital parking operations.
In 2011, 60 years after its founding, the National Parking Association continues to expand to meet the increasingly diverse needs of the parking industry.
Many thanks to former PARKING Magazine Contributing Editor Lou Cook, author of "50 Years of the National Parking Association,” for all of the information contained in these pages.