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The Chicago Traveler

Zone 6?

by Matt B on September 21st, 2007

Mary Jo’s article on Monday about parking (c/o The Seattle Traveler) reminded me of something I’ve seen several times here in Chicago. Almost everywhere my friend and I drove (and parked), we would see parking meters with a bright yellow, square sticker on them, declaring “Zone 6″. “What’s Zone 6?” I wondered. At first, I wondered if it was a new music artist or band that had emerged with a vague and strange advertising scheme. But after seeing more and more stickers (all stating “Zone 6″), I realized it must be something city-related. But just how huge is Zone 6? And why wasn’t I seeing any other numbered Zones?

chicago parking zoneApparently, I just wasn’t going to the right places. Chicago does indeed have six different parking zones, each one designated with a different rate. Zone 1 will give you five minutes for 25 cents; Zone 2 offers 10 minutes; Zone 3, 15; Zone 4, 20; Zone 5 is a half-hour; and my frequently-seen Zone 6 is worth a whole hour for that 25'. I guess it’s good to know that I’m getting the most that I can out of my quarter.

Be prepared! If you’re heading downtown, and you manage to find a metered parking spot on the street (congratulations!), bring plenty of change, as most meters in the Loop area are Zone 1 or 3. To take a little mystery out of the whole meter madness, check out the Chicago map of parking meters. It includes rates and locations of each Zone, and what hours they are in service.

Now, if you don’t want to carry around a pile of quarters with you, City Hall is selling 1,000 I-Pass-like devices that will allow Chicagoans to pay for parking by phone. For $15 a piece (first come, first served), drivers can place the nine-square-inch (23-square-cm) device in their windshield and use it at any of the 33,000 parking meters in the city. You simply call a phone number and type in the zone of your meter and how long you plan on staying there. The appropriate fee will come out of your $15 deposit, and the expiration time will display on the screen. This is great for those times when your meeting or date runs a little longer than expected. Instead of rushing outside hoping to catch the expired meter before the cop with a fistful of tickets does, you can simply call the number again and add extra time. I expect that more of these devices will be available depending upon the success of this trial-run.

Photo credit: (c/o Flickr) polomex

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2 opinions for Zone 6?

  • Columbus Day
    Oct 8, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    […] Day! Get in the spirit, and do some exploring around the city today. (You still have to feed those parking meters today though!) And remember to head over to Grant Park on Saturday for the Columbus Day Parade. […]

  • Get in the Zone with Parking Anytime
    Aug 28, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    […] in Chicago can be a tricky ordeal. Aside from parking meters and pricey garages, you also have to worry about local neighborhoods' parking time restrictions, […]

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