Cities: May 2006 Archives

If you have trouble finding your way around the tidy Cartesian grid that defines Tulsa's street network, imagine learning your way around an ancient, complex, and chaotic street network, and keeping that map entirely in your head.

From the Transport for London website:

All licensed taxi drivers in the Capital must have an in depth knowledge of the road network and places of interest in London - the 'Knowledge'. For would be All London drivers, this means that they need to have a detailed knowledge of London within a six mile radius of Charing Cross. Suburban drivers need to have a similarly detailed knowledge of their chosen sector.

From a PDF document about the Knowledge of London examination system:

In order to complete the Knowledge you will need to know any place where a taxi passenger might ask to be taken and how to get there. To do this you will need to know all the streets, roads, squares etc. as well as specific places, such as parks and open spaces, housing estates, government offices and departments, financial and commercial centres, diplomatic premises, town halls, registry offices, hospitals, places of worship, sports stadiums and leisure centres, stations, hotels, clubs, theatres, cinemas, museums, art galleries, schools, colleges and universities, societies, associations and institutions, police stations, civil, criminal and coroner’s courts, prisons, and places of interest to tourists. Such places are known as ‘points’.

How do you organize all this information in your brain? You learn 320 "runs", divided into 20 lists of 16 runs. A run connects two major points, and you learn the route from one end to the other, the reverse route (which may differ because of one-way streets and turn restrictions), all points of interest along the way, and all points of interest with a quarter-mile of each end point.

After an introductory talk, you have six months to learn the first 80 runs, then you go through a self-assessment, just to see if you've got the hang of it. You have another 18 months to learn the remaining 240 runs. Then there are four stages of oral examinations, each of which may involve multiple exams before advancing to the next stage. According to Transport for London:

On average it takes an All London applicant 34 months to learn the Knowledge and pass through the examination process, 26 months for a suburban applicant.

Small wonder that that London cabbie was able to keep his composure when he unexpectedly found himself being interviewed on TV about an Internet intellectual property case. (Hat tip on the cabbie story to The Dawn Patrol.)

Mysterious California investors are buying historic office buildings... in downtown Oklahoma City:

California investors bought First National Center on Friday in a fast deal that could turn what many see as an albatross around downtown’s revival into a “crown jewel” in time for the state’s centennial.

It was a $21 million cash transaction, said Tim Strange of Sperry Van Ness, which handled the sale of the largest office complex downtown.

The buyers, who were not revealed, have no connection to Oklahoma, he said. Nonetheless, the deal could hit Oklahomans in the heart if the Californians are successful in resurrecting the capital city’s downtown landmark.

“Plans are to bring it back to its former glory as the crown jewel of downtown Oklahoma City. To fill it up - and dress her up and take her to the ball. Have a centennial ball in the Great Banking Hall,” Strange said.

Here's a photo of the Great Banking Hall

My first thought when I read about this at Dustbury was, "Hey, these had better not be our Californians!"

But our guys -- Maurice Kanbar and Henry Kaufman, who have purchased over 25% of downtown Tulsa's office space, with plans to create housing, retail, and art galleries -- don't fit the description in the Oklahoman story, as they have ties to the state, through their Tulsa buying spree. Kanbar's ties go back at least as far as his purchase of Tulsa's Council Oak Books.

So maybe this is the new California trend. Somewhere in Malibu, at a cocktail party, someone is going on about the office building he bought that cost less than his beach house, and someone else tops that with the tale of the gem he bought for less than his Lamborghini. As California trends go, at least it's constructive.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Cities category from May 2006.

Cities: April 2006 is the previous archive.

Cities: June 2006 is the next archive.

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