Lots of lots

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Only one comment so far in response to Downtown Guy's request for what's best in downtown Tulsa. My dad writes:

What is best in Downtown Tulsa?? ---- For a price, there are lots of lots for parking!!!!!

He's right. Downtown has a tremendous collection of surface parking lots, many encompassing an entire city block. Mikki and I once went on a helicopter ride over downtown, and we were awestruck by the vast expanses of asphalt, and there's more of it every year.

Downtown was not always like that -- take a look at downtown, viewed from the south, in 1952. Nearly every building less than five stories in the foreground of that photo, along with many taller buildings, have been flattened, mainly to provide surface parking for Tulsa Community College and nearby churches.

When I first ran for City Council in 1998, I talked about city leaders bringing together building owners, church leaders, and TCC to find a way to meet the need for parking without continuing the process of flattening downtown. Shortly after that election, the Catholic Diocese of Eastern Oklahoma demolished the Tulsa Apartments at 9th and Main. The sturdy apartments were built in the '20s and would have had great potential for renovation as apartments or condos. The diocese claimed that they would replace the apartments with a plaza and a new chancery, but in fact they wanted it for more convenient parking for Sunday morning, just like all the other downtown churches.

Seven years later, the leveling of downtown continues, most recently with the Tulsa Whirled's demolition of the Skelly Building for a dozen parking spots. City leaders are so convinced that the arena (if it is ever built) will bring downtown back to life that they haven't noticed that there isn't much downtown left to revive.

Anyone else think this is a problem?

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A "Concerned Native Tulsan" added this comment to a Michael Bates article on downtown Tulsa: [W]e are quickly trying to convince the folks that a NEW landmark, an architecturally unique... Read More

6 Comments

mas said:

Hey there.

I mean who are you?

You that took a helocopter ride over Tulsa? I lived there for twenty years and I never got that privlige. So what do you know about north of 40th st?

Concerned Native Tulsan said:

As a native Tulsa, now near retirement age, I have seen Tulsa's downtown transition from a wonderful area, full of activity, to an area with office buildings (many up for lease or empty)and MANY parking lots, as mentioned.

Some of my most vivid memories of downtown are those with great stores to shop, movie theaters that had great movies (as well as prices), big parades with large bands and marching units (I was part of a marching unit and loved it) and beautiful churches. Our neighborhood was full of school age kiddos that loved to ride the bus to town and enjoyed walking to school together (about 2 miles along the rail tracks and along neighborhood streets). I realize that time changes things but, seems we have sacrificed many of the real valuable experiences and genuine characteristics of our downtown for "someone" to make a "buck".

We have not spent time preserving our history as well as we could have, given the fact that it seems just too easy to give up another one of our "landmarks", for "progress" and "profit".
Now, we are quickly trying to convince the folks that a NEW landmark, an architecturally unique arena will help revive folks' momentum to return to Tulsa. Then, placing that arena in a blighted area of downtown, that is known to be a chancy area to enter at anytime of day or night. Many folks feel that developing the arena along the river would have been a better choice......but, who knew that Tulsa citizens would foot the bill for the arena, but, have no input as to where it would be built. Something is obviously not going right, when there are a select few that are dictating and controlling all issues within the city. And these few are very wealthy and with each decision, likely to become wealthier!

Again, the citizens are demanding honesty, integrity and accountability on all issues. With these values and some dedicated, public servants within our elected officials, Tulsa could earn once again the title of a "most beautiful city".

To be completely honest, there really isn't much downtown that interests me enough to compel me to include it in my list of leisurely destinations.
There are, however, a couple of nice clubs you can go to if you're into the heavier music scene. One in particular is the Venue at 18th and Boston.
There is one destination I do miss, and that was the old ice rink at the Williams center. My friends and I used to go there and go ice skating and hang out in the multi-level mall that used to be there.

Jeff Shaw Author Profile Page said:

I can't imagine a worse use of space than a single level parking lot in downtown Tulsa. I seriously think about 5 more multi-level lots would take care of every car downtown, and the existing spaces could be developed differently, with more diversity of use (but not that silly "pocket park" idea which has no use other than employing some leaf blowers in the fall). If you've been downtown lately you may have noticed that main street with all of the park benches will now comfortably seat 400 - I have yet to see anyone seated. In reference to the comment from Concerned Native Tulsan, I too have some fond memories of downtown Tulsa as a kid, where we used to ride our bicycles on Saturday and go to the Central Library and do our homework, check out some books and then go to Coney Island for lunch, and sneak through the abandoned train station from time to time.

mas, we won a Christmas lights helicopter tour in a drawing at an office party, and the tour began and ended just south of the Inner Dispersal Loop. As for north of 40th Street, I spend most of my time there. I don't venture into south Tulsa unless I must.

I appreciate the reminiscences about downtown. Every time I see a picture of downtown as it was 50 years ago, or even 40 years ago, I feel a sadness that I missed those days.

W. said:

If you want to blame anything for the decline of downtown Tulsa, blame the flight to suburbia.

I've lived in several cities in the Midwest. Believe me, Tulsa's downtown problems are not unique.

However, these same Midwest cities are seeing an upswing in their downtowns again -- caused by residential development. It's slow in happening in Tulsa, but it's definitely coming.

And nothing like $2.19 a gallon gas to make commuting from far-flung suburbs look a lot less enticing.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on April 9, 2005 11:47 PM.

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