The story of Tulsa’s downtown is a story of decline, but the downtown neighborhood is still one of the most valuable in the city. Although commerce has largely fled to more lucrative locations in suburbia, magnificent old skyscrapers remain and downtown is the seat of banking, government, courts and the legal and financial community.
The city government sadly has neglected downtown for decades. Much of the work under way now would not be necessary if infrastructure had been replaced as needed through the years.
Neal uses that word “neglected.” I do not believe it means what he thinks it means. Neither does Michael Bates:
For the last 50 years, city government has gone from one scheme to another to improve downtown: Urban renewal, the Inner Dispersal Loop, the Civic Center, the pedestrianized Main Mall, the Williams Center, and now the arena. Each city government-driven project has closed streets, driven out residents, brought down buildings, and generated new surface parking lots. As I’ve explored old news clippings, I’ve found that Ken Neal was a fervent advocate of most of those destructive ideas. The parts of downtown that are the healthiest and liveliest are the parts that the planners of decades past thought unworthy of their attention, like the Blue Dome District and the Brady Arts District.
Which fact should serve as an object lesson to Oklahoma City, where the urge to overregulate has never quite been entirely dampened. At least we’re no longer being bowled over with wrecking balls. (If you’re in the Core to Shore area, south of the old Crosstown, your mileage may will vary.)