Saturday, September 16, 2006

Downtown Oklahoma City's revitalization

Oklahoma City has had a lot of improvements in the quality of life area in the last ten years. The Bricktown area is still being developed and is becoming quite a nice place to visit. There is a large Bass Pro Shops store called "Outdoor World" that features a waterfall and large fish tank inside. The canal with its man-made waterfalls and water taxis, along with the entertainment and restaurants in Bricktown, have become tourist attractions (even for the locals), and they are finishing the upgrade to the Oklahoma river downtown. Sometime next year, there will be tour boats that will run up and down the river. They already have high-speed boat races on the river.

They have built up a park next to the river which features a building in the shape of a boat. The Chesapeak Boathouse contains rowboats, kayaks and dragon boats that you can rent and take down the river. There are specific lanes that have been marked along the river for racing. The boathouse also contains an indoor exercise room with several rowboat exercise machines. There is even an event room for meetings.

The original MAPS plan called for digging up Oklahoma City's light rail "trolley car" tracks (ala San Francisco -- without the hills). However, for some inexplicable reason, our own congressman shot it down in committee. He then supported the same project for Salt Lake City when that money could have been used for his own state. The trolley buses that replaced them just don't quite fill the void.

The revitalization plan still has a long way to go, but there is a tremendous improvement in the feel of the city. The availability of Broadway plays, nationally touring artists and big shows like Cirque du Soleil (who I was able to see earlier this year) and Blue Man Group, who will be here in November, 2006, combined with 4 professional sports teams (the basketball team is a major league team) gives my hometown a vitality that I don't ever remember it having before.

Back in the 1930's, Oklahomans fled to California to seek out a better life. With the housing bubble bursting, will those disaffected Californians have to move to Oklahoma to seek out a better life?

1 comment:

Teri said...

It's good to hear that the downtown is being revitalized. I was born in OKC in the early 50s and lived there until the mid 60s. I went through the town briefly several years ago and thought things hadn't changed much (although I didn't go through downtown at all, just the outskirts).

I left CA in the 70s to move to Washington state, so don't guess I'll be going back although I still like the folks out there and would love to get my Stillwater cousin to relocate out here.