Bill Lerner knows all about the past of New York City’s parking industry. He owns one of the city’s biggest parking businesses and has plenty of experience in managing it. For Lerner, parking has always been a family trade. Everything began with his father’s ownership of several properties in the 1960s and 70s. By the time he entered the industry in 1978, there were 12 locations managed by Imperial Parking, the original name of the company. Today, iPark is responsible for over 130 garages in the New York area, with more on the horizon.
New York City has always been one of the main epicenters of parking innovation, as the popularity of the automobile in urban areas rose substantially upon introduction. By 1929, over 23 million cars were driving on American roads, creating a rapidly growing problem in major cities. The issue continued to worsen over the coming decades as cities struggled to accommodate the massive influx of these vehicles. Lerner’s father operated a gas station and adjacent parking lot during the 1940s and 50s, and quickly recognized the opportunity. “That’s where he saw the need for parking in the city of New York, when people came to work during the day,” Lerner said to The Atlantic. “Especially after World War II, when all the G.I.s were coming back from Europe and they had learned to drive Jeeps while over in Europe. They were given money by the government under the G.I. Bill…it really created a need to have garages in New York.”
The city’s earliest parking garages were much more regal than today’s versions, operating as fully enclosed buildings that often included professional attendants who handled the parking for the customer. Some even contained a fully staffed gas-and-service station, and others provided babysitting while drivers shopped nearby. By the 1950s, New York City was in the midst of a construction boom for parking garages, and self-service eventually became the norm. Innovations in building design, materials, and vehicle durability eventually led to the open-air, concrete structures that are now standard. Leading the industry into the new era, Bill Lerner is embracing modern technological changes in a variety of ways, including the offering of electric charging stations at select locations.
Bill Lerner is the President and CEO of iPark, New York’s largest family-owned parking garage entity. Upon graduating from the University of Colorado with a degree in Business, Bill officially joined his family’s company, where he began to strategically redevelop its operational processes. Today, he personally oversees all technological transitions, placing iPark at the forefront of the parking industry’s evolution as the company further expands into new locations. A philanthropist at heart, Bill devotes his spare time to a number of charitable causes, most notably Billy4Kids; a nonprofit organization he founded that works to provide shoes for underprivileged children around the world.
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