Remember when analog was popular? You know, clocks with hands on them, push button telephones, Sony Walkmans and parking lots?

Yeah, parking lots, like the one at Cherry Creek Mall that has a digital parking space counter and sensors that help guide drivers to open parking spaces.

The Denver Botanic Gardens now also has a digital parking space counter. The glaring difference is that it's free.

"There's nothing worse than going to a parking garage and guessing whether or not there are spaces available for you, driving around," said Denver Botanic Gardens Director of Operations Maggi Quinn. "It's all free. Free parking in Denver, Colorado."


The digital system is as basic as they come. No fancy sensors attached to the ceilings with green and red lights. No gates that require a ticket to be taken. Simply, a sensor in the ground.

"As you drive in, a sensor that's cut into the concrete on each level, will register the weight of the car; count you coming in, count you going from level to level and count you as you exit," Quinn told Next. "We did this for customer service purposes only. We really wanted to enhance the visitor experience. We want their visit to be pleasant from the time that they come here to the time they walk out the door."

There is a digital scoreboard on both the York Street and Josephine Street side of the parking structure. It only counts spaces for the 300 spots inside the garage, not the open-air parking deck.

"You can visually see what's available there, it wasn't necessary," said Quinn.

Even though there are thousands of fewer spots here than at Cherry Creek Mall, the obvious difference is this system is free, while the mall charges for stays longer than one hour.

At Cherry Creek Mall, the first hour is free. Two hours is $3. Three hours is $4. After that it's $2 an hour up to a max of $16.

When you drive to Botanic Gardens, you may notice a few yellow balls hanging from the parking structure ceiling. We thought those might be sensors that help indicate how many spots are free. We were way off. They're basically bird poo deterrents.

"Those are actually bird deterrents. We love our birds, but we like them to stay in the garden, stay in wildlife and not in a parking garage where they can cause a little mess."

Botanic Gardens did say the system was expensive, but also told us it did not raise ticket prices to cover the cost.