The 450-square mile Parking Lot

Entry 5 | 7 March 2012 | 17:15

Rhetorical Précis

Hunter S. Thompson’s “The 450-square mile Parking Lot” highlights the detrimental effect of Los Angles’ population boom on traffic and new residents during the 1960s. (1) Unlike his later works, this article relies more heavily on hard facts to deliver the news to an audience, but extremely rich vocabulary that pokes fun at everyday human struggles makes the article more than simply a report on California population figures. Although cities are growing in the United States, since 1965 the birth rate has significantly dropped, and over population therefore is not as devastating of a problem as Thomson describes it in his article. This less aggressive yet cheeky style of early Thompson writing informs the reader without simply yelling at him or her.


Reading the type of journalism that Thompson put forth for Pagent magazine before he had the ego to do more insane things made me miss the earlier days of print magazines and newspapers. The article had a smattering of facts and figures that informative as well as relevant, but the excellent writing made me want to continue reading the piece. Nothing was boring, but I also didn’t feel like I was being insulted by a piece of writing. Thompson’s journalism roots are strong, and it is clear that he can write. His later works suggest that his writing is overshadowed by his ability to rant and make rather vulgar but clever jokes. This article proves his ability. Although I very much enjoyed the 1965 article on overpopulation in Los Angeles, I enjoy Thompson’s later work as well, but for different reasons. His reasoning in this article makes sense as well – overpopulation is a city specific problem in the United States. Today, as the environmentalist movement makes a (perhaps more commercially driven) comeback, the issue to highways packed with thousands of cars should be a deterrent to moving to a certain place. However, in today’s world, with the massive amount of competition for careers rather than jobs, cities are drawing in more young people. Living in a place where the clouds consist of greenhouse gases instead of water is an unfortunate reality for many Americans. People go to where the jobs are, and the jobs are in the cities. Thompson suggests moving to a slightly less congested city as an alternative to Los Angeles, but today, the American Dream does not necessarily mean to settle down in a nice house with a picket fence. Today, the American Dream is having a career rather than a job; living arrangements take a backseat to professional fulfillment.


(1) Thompson, Hunter S. “The 450-Square Mile Parking Lot,” Pageant: (Dec. 1965): 53-59.

Scroll down to “The 450-Square Mile Parking Lot – Hunter S. Thompson (Pageant Dec. 1965)” to view the article.



One thought on “The 450-square mile Parking Lot

  1. I like the look (very dark and somber, like the humor of Hunter S. Thompson). Yet, it is a bit hard to read, at least on my screen. Content is fantastic, except that citations should be in Chicago Manual of Style. Look that up and correct each entry. If they are direct links to an online page, then it is a different story. Good work.

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