How the "Great Divide" damages Tulsa neighborhoods

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Here's a very insightful comment by someone with the handle "innercityartisan," posted next to my column about the PLANiTULSA small-area workshop for Forest Orchard, about the way expressways and other barriers to pedestrian and auto traffic on surface streets can blight a neighborhood. It also provides a picture of living in and near downtown a generation ago. (Emphasis added.)

I was there at the meeting. And I grew up in this area in the 50's and 60's. The more I think about the idea of removing the east leg of the IDL, the more I like it!

As kids, we walked or took the bus downtown to the movies. I walked to Central H. S., my gym class played field hockey in Central Park. At noon we students ran around a very busy downtown for lunch and did all our teenage shopping in the department stores and record store. We knew all the "secret" ways to get from one building to the next and across alleys. We were at home downtown, we felt safe and in a way we were supervised by the tens of thousands of people that lived and worked in the inner city.

My grandfather, a geologist, had his office in the Mid-Continent Building. We went to parades, enjoyed the Christmas lights and explored eateries with him.

I am now involved with the Pearl District and where I grew up and work in my home between the Gunboat Parks within the IDL. I am also involved with the Brady Arts District and the East Village at 3rd and Lansing. All these areas suffer because of the "Great Divide."

As has been recognized by other more recognized writers and activists, any city area that runs up against a large "dead" tract of land such as an expressway right-of-way, with no through foot traffic, tends to die and shrivel away. Large parking lots such as those around Hillcrest Hospital or cul-de-sacs and turnarounds that stop through traffic and long chain link fences can mean blight to a neighborhood.

After all, how can your neighborhood become an area that people discover and want to visit or live in if no one ever goes into or through it? And how can you feel safe living, walking or playing with no one around to keep an eye on things?

The only people to "discover" the Brady district have come for events at Cain's and the Old Lady on Brady and most of them don't stay. The Brady area is not so "alive" with activity in many continuous storefronts that a person can feel completely safe walking alone at night. Few people live there. Visitors don't tend to stop and explore. Hopefully the Ball Stadium will increase the number of buildings and residents.

I'm concerned that the vision for the Pearl District with shops and restaurants, small grocery stores, dry cleaners etc. will not happen in development areas placed next to the IDL. This condition also effects the "East Village" or "East End" which is directly across the IDL from the Pearl district. And yet these two neighborhoods could exponentially increase, the interest, excitement and potential resources available for walking residents and visitors if they were actually more connected and accessible to each other. The existing few overpasses between these areas feel long, exposed and very windy!

Get rid of the IDL or cross it with overpasses that have buildings on them. Something that encourages people to hang out and provide a friendly safe environment.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on May 1, 2009 5:28 PM.

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