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March 25, 2019, 01:58:14 pm
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Author Topic: Downtown  (Read 5790 times)
« on: January 23, 2005, 06:01:52 am »

Since so many on this board like to discuss downtown Tulsa and its future, I thought I would start a new thread where the subject could be thoroughly hashed out.

Many of you like to talk about downtown but it is obvious than few know downtown, where it came from, what it was like and where it is going. I would like to describe downtown – then and now.


I grew up in the golden age of Tulsa’s downtown – the late 40’s and early 50’s. Downtown was the center for most things … work, entertainment, school, church. As far as shopping was concerned, downtown was it. There were two big department stores (Brown Dunkin and Vandivers) and a host of other stores (Renbergs, Clarkes, Seidenbachs, Frougs, Kress etc). In other words, except for Sears, if you wanted to buy it – you went downtown to do it. As far as schools were concerned, Tulsa had a top notch high school at Central and a large Jr High at Horace Mann – downtown. Want to see a movie? You probably went downtown to do it – several big movie theatres including the Orpheum, Ritz, Rialto and Majestic. Last and surely not least was the fact that a lot of people worked downtown. Taken all together it means during those days there was a REASON to go downtown.


Everyone knows what it is like today. Want to see a movie? Go to the mall or easier still, drive three blocks and go to Blockbuster. Buy a pair of jeans? No sweat, head to the mall again, no need to go downtown. Work – yes you might work downtown but chances are you work in one of the mini downtowns scattered all over the place (in big cities these “mini downtowns” become almost cities in there own right – think they are termed “edge cities”). I think you are getting the picture by now – people don’t go downtown because there is no reason to go downtown any more and people always take the path of least resistance.


OK, I hear you say “I know all of that but what happens now in downtown Tulsa?” Well, I am no better in predicting the future than any of you but I will mention what I think and some of the big cities across the country can give a clue. People are not going to move downtown just because they like living near concrete and tall buildings – they must have a reason to do it.

In the big cities, there are huge numbers of people that work downtown. So many in fact that in cities like Chicago, Houston, Dallas, NY etc commute time becomes a major factor in where you live. In other words people move downtown and near town to escape brutal commutes. Pressure on the downtown property makes prices rise and the upscale retailers and restaurants follow … simple really. Downtown becomes the place to be.

Will downtown Tulsa flourish again? I doubt it.  There are a few downtowns in this country that are alive and exciting. Tulsa will not be one of them.
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