Steps to Nowhere, in This Land Press

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Tulsa, north of downtown, steps to nowhere

For the first time in a long time, I have an article in print. The May 15, 2014, edition of This Land Press includes my history of the lost neighborhood just north of downtown Tulsa. Criss-crossed by streets but now devoid of buildings, this neighborhood was established about 100 years ago, was a thriving neighborhood as recently as 50 years ago, and still had residents 10 years ago. What happened? Pick up a copy of This Land Press at your friendly neighborhood coffeehouse, bookstore, or restaurant to read the story. (UPDATE: "Steps to Nowhere" is now online.)

Tulsa, north of downtown, aerial photo, 1951

I wrote far more than there was room to publish. In particular, I wish there had been more room for the personal recollections that were entrusted to me. I had to whittle them down considerably to have room to get the basic framework across. If there's an enthusiastic response to this story, I hope to have the opportunity to include some of those anecdotes in future stories. Since the story was submitted, I met several more former residents with interesting stories to tell; perhaps more photos and anecdotes will surface now that the story is in print.

Tulsa, north of downtown, satellite photo, 2014


I've posted an album of photographs, some taken by me earlier this year, some I took from 2007 (before OSU resculpted Standpipe Hill and planted a tower on top, and photos and images from neighborhood residents Martin Reidy, Bill Leighty, and other sources: Tulsa's Lost Near Northside. Included is this annotated 1967 aerial photo of Tulsa's Near Northside neighborhood.

Bill Leighty, one of the former residents I interviewed for the story, has posted his detailed reminiscences of his Near Northside childhood on his Smart Growth Tulsa blog.

I found some additional info about the Boston Beer Garden, a neighborhood fixture for 46 years, destroyed by fire in 1983.

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» Boston Beer Garden, 1937-1983 from BatesLine

Found while looking for something else: In the Tulsa Library's growing digital archive, a December 22, 1983, Tulsa Tribune, story about the the Boston Beer Garden, destroyed by fire in the wee hours of December 21, 1983. The fire took the life of the b... Read More


L.C. Delaune said:

Interesting article and great photographs. Thank you for collecting and sharing. I am a Tulsa native who has made my adult life in Houston, TX. The same trajectory of viable neighborhoods and intact communities being destroyed in the name of development has taken place in Houston over the last 100 years. A nearly identical Houston residential/commercial area on the edge of downtown was spliced by the construction of 288 North/South in the 1960's. What's left of the neighborhoods today is disjointed with an extreme imbalance of overpriced housing and dilapidated housing. This was an area in Historic Houston where white, black and Jewish neighborhoods intersected with two universities (one being an HBUC), residential, the nascent medical center and downtown. Many older housing/development/preservation activists in Houston are well familiar with the history of Tulsa's old neighborhoods. Tulsa is seen, by them, as the testing ground for "urban renewal" and land appropriation which results in community displacement. There are many, many parallels between the two cities in regards to land use, housing, etc.

Kevin S said:

I read that article in This Land Press and thought it was so, so sad. The picture from 1951 really tells the story.

I can see the hope that fueled the dream of building a great modern university steps from Tulsa's downtown, but the failure of that dream (as well as the construction of I-244) devastated an area. Given the boom in the Brady, I could easily see that area (if the old housing stock still existed) being the first toehold for gentrification and rehabilitation on the north side.

Is that land still owned by OSU-Tulsa? Could a private developer create something there? I know the interstate makes it a stretch for the Brady to bleed over, but its something worth thinking about.

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