What are "Dibs" on parking spots in Chicago?

Chicago is known for its deep dish pizza, beautiful architecture and blustery breezes off Lake Michigan. But when the harsh blizzardy winter hits the Windy City each year, Chicago is also known for the seasonal occurrence of Dibs. Dibs occurs when drivers bring out their shovels to dig their frozen cars out of the snowy streets in their neighborhoods. After making an effort to shovel a street parking spot, many people feel entitled to the space for a while and put lawn shares or other pieces of property in the parking spot to call “dibs” on it when they aren’t using the space.

Dibs in Chicago has been a controversial topic since it started back in at least 1967 when the worst blizzard in the city’s history dumped 23 inches of snow. Some feel the inconvenience of clearing a parking spot grants them the right to hold the space even when their car isn’t parked there. Others believe it is selfish and unfair to hold a public parking spot. To a point, the custom is honored by city officials. Since Chicago is known as a blue collar city, a person working up a sweat to shovel out a space deserves to use it for a while, according to Mayor Rahm Emanuel. But once the snow starts melting, the Department of Streets and Sanitation collect lawn chairs, tables and any other items used to call dibs on parking spots.  

With driveway and garage space limited in the city, many Chicago residents rely on street parking in neighborhoods. Whether you agree with it or not, most Chicagoans respect dibs, if not for the principle then to avoid the angry notes, squabbles with others or possible car damage that can occur if you take a person’s spot after they called dibs on it.

If you are looking to live in Chicago, dibs is a real seasonal occurrence in many neighborhoods that should be taken into consideration. Apartments for rent in Lakeview, Bucktown, Wicker Park and Ukrainian Village, for example, are especially known as “dibs” neighborhoods.

A comical gallery of dibs on cleared parking spots can be found here.


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