It fell on two cars, totaling one and damaging the other. The crane operator, who is an employee of a sub-contractor, was taken to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center as a precaution.
The new $6 million downtown parking deck sustained minimal damage.
"The City is thankful no one was injured," City Manager Dale Iman said. "There is a full builders risk policy in place which will cover all damages."
It is not clear why the crane collapsed, but workers at the scene said it was a standard lift and they did not observe any operator error.
Pictures from Chopper 11 HD showed the crane lying on its side. The boom stretched all the way across a nearby street and a passenger car parked in the Robert C. Williams 1 parking lot, which is on the other side of the street, was crushed by the impact. The City is working to get alternate parking passes for motorists who had reserved spaces in the lot.
Police said there was nobody in the car when it happened.
Witnesses say it seemed to happen in slow motion.
"All of a sudden the crane just started coming over. It was unreal," said Jack Lee.
According to the contractor, LeChase, OSHA is not required to investigate because there were less than three injuries and no fatalities.
Franklin Street is closed between Gillespie and Maxwell streets. Donaldson Street is closed between Hay and Russell streets. Both roads will remain closed until the crane is cleared from the site.
It is not known when the crane will be cleared or when work on the parking deck will resume.