When they were built, parking garages were supposed to help save downtowns from being eclipsed by suburban developments.

But decades after cities tore down buildings and replaced them with parking structures, communities across the country are demolishing the garages. In their place, they're putting up buildings again, confident that lively offices, hotels and housing will draw more people.

Tom Murphy is an urban-revitalization expert and former mayor of Pittsburgh. He says interest in downtowns is growing and more cities are looking to replace parking garages to add vitality to these districts.

Or as Southern Illinois University architecture professor Shannon Sanders McDonald says of old garages, "They are coming down."

Among cities planning to replace old parking ramps are Des Moines, Iowa; Madison, Wisconsin; and Asheville, North Carolina.