The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

4 February 2006

Saturday spottings (on the march)

The Lakers game was sold out approximately nine minutes after tickets went on sale, or so the story goes, so I didn't have any compelling reason to go downtown today, but compulsion isn't everything, and I wanted to look over the old Downtown Airpark, which, as noted earlier, is about to be scraped away and replaced with one of those mixed-use developments you hear so much about in the trades.

Nominally at SW 16th and Western, the Airpark extends practically to the south bank of the North Canadian Oklahoma River; the OCPD uses the north end of it for a helicopter base, and now I'm wondering if they're going to move. Western on either side of this is fairly dreary, so new stuff this close to the river might well precipitate a general facelift for a half-mile or so in either direction.

Or maybe not. The march of progress goes ever on, but one of the things about marches, and God knows I did plenty of them in my day, is that you don't look down to see what's getting stepped on. Part of the old Riverside community, centered on SW 10th and Walker — the Community Center is just east of there, Little Flower Church just to the south — is being pretty well stomped by the coming of the New Interstate 40, which is, according to the maps, going to overlay SW 8th. What the maps don't tell you is how much of 8th isn't navigable anyway — railroad tracks slice through this part of town, and too many crossings cost too much money — or how much of the area has already been swept into oblivion. Blocks with one or two houses, sometimes no houses, lots of broken glass, the occasional abandoned appliance, stagnant water from a recent water-line repair: it's obviously not Katrina, but you're excused if you think it looks like it could have been one of her smaller siblings. "Every year," says Bob Waldrop, "Oklahoma City looks more and more like a Victor Hugo novel"; all this area lacks is a sewer big enough to chase someone through.

Then back north on Walker to the site of the much-delayed — ground was finally broken in late January — Legacy Summit at Arts Central apartments, nice enough but fairly undistinguished as urban residences go, which can serve as a reminder as spring and baseball season approach: Oklahoma City has hit quite a few home runs in recent years, but the conscientious stats guy will point out that there have been plenty of bunts, rather a lot of pop-ups to shallow right, and altogether too many foul balls.

Posted at 1:48 PM to City Scene

Next time there's an opportunity to nominate my favorite Dustbury post... this will be it. It is hauntingly lyrical. As a frequent visitor to this area of OKC, I can attest that your powerful description paints a picture that sadly reflects reality.

Posted by: Dr. Jan at 2:45 PM on 4 February 2006