9 January 2003
Positive tunnel vision
It's called the Metro Conncourse, and no, that's not a typo: it's named for Jack Conn, chairman of the old Fidelity Bank downtown, who with Dean A. McGee led development of Oklahoma City's pedestrian tunnels. The first link, under Broadway at Park Avenue, opened in 1931; over the years, the network of tunnels has expanded to most of downtown. Recently, Bricktown, east of downtown and off the Conncourse, has gotten most of the attention, and the tunnels have been mostly neglected.
Until now. A $3 million master plan for renovation of the tunnels will attempt to make them hip once again, with improvements to both the tunnels and the sidewalk entrances, and the addition of historical galleries to brighten up the rather bland interior. With the new plan comes a new name: "The Underground". Maybe too hip for this crowd, but I've always thought that the tunnels were one of the niftier aspects of downtown, and perking them up is something that's long overdue, especially if downtown promoters expect to pick up on any of the Bricktown frenzy. It's probably not possible to extend The Underground to Bricktown the canal might get in the way but right now, it's more important to remind people that it exists at all.