The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

20 November 2004

Saturday spottings (wheeling)

The stretch of Broadway from 4th to 10th is known as Automobile Alley; at one time it was the home of more than half the car dealerships in Oklahoma City. After World War II dealers began relocating to the suburbs, and today only two auto dealers operate downtown, neither on the Alley (though Mercedes-Benz of Oklahoma City, at 12th and Broadway, is close). Like many near-downtown districts, the Alley has been getting a facelift lately, and while there are still lots of empty vintage buildings, there are signs of serious commerce: a couple of branch banks, an architect, even a CD store.

I was down the Alley today to drop in at Individual Artists of Oklahoma, which has a gallery between 7th and 8th in what used to be the city's Packard dealership. The main exhibit at IAO this month is "Muse America" by Steve Cluck, a collection of paintings and screenprints that celebrate American womanhood at its brightest, or at least its most brightly-colored. Interesting stuff, and there's a ballot box to vote for the Muse you find most inspiring.

And I should point out that the "Alley" name, while it undoubtedly was chosen for the purpose of alliteration, is a prime example of Oklahoma understatement: this section of Broadway is one of the widest streets in town. Its 100-foot width, according to legend, was chosen because it was wide enough to do a 180 in a horse-drawn wagon.

North of the Capitol, construction continues on the Oklahoma History Center, a new home for the state Historical Society and some spiffy new exhibits. And it's about time they did something north of the Capitol; they've cleaned up Lincoln Boulevard's streetscape, but there's scarcely anything left between 23rd and 36th. While I don't particularly miss the rundown commercial district that used to be there, I'd like to see something on Lincoln that doesn't reflect the state government's ongoing edifice complex.

Posted at 7:07 PM to City Scene