The Edmond Sun

Opinion

January 22, 2008

OKC makes its move toward hipness

EDMOND — In the recent film “I am Legend,” Will Smith plays a character who appears to be the last living person in New York City after that city has been devastated by an epidemic caused by a virus. Smith’s character, Robert Neville, spends most of his time in the first half of the film traveling through an abandoned Big Apple that has its recognizable landmarks still in place but has been totally depopulated.

There was a time when downtown Oklahoma City’s thoroughfares were almost equally abandoned in the evenings and on weekends, and a visitor there could savor its landmarks and feel the solitude that Smith conveys in an understated manner. But that has changed in recent years, and downtown Oklahoma City now has signs of a rebirth with office buildings being converted into condominiums and restaurants and stores emerging from formerly moribund structures.

People now can be seen walking dogs and jogging there. And in the recently concluded “Downtown in December” in which a series of public events were conducted throughout the downtown area, groups of people could be seen going from one event to another on foot.

Washington Post columnist Neal Pierce recently wrote about what is termed “walkable urbanism” that currently exists in certain neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., where residents walk to stores, parks, museums and sports events. Pierce wrote that in the early 1980s, Washington had only two such neighborhoods, Georgetown and Old Alexandria, but now there are 17 such areas, and at least five more are being developed there.

Similar communities are found throughout the nation, including Dallas. The columnist reminds us that urban living of that type was widespread in America before World War II, but after that conflict Americans began to move to the suburbs, a migration that enriched the automobile, construction and oil industries. But by the 1990s many Americans became disenchanted with the traffic congestion and high gas costs that had become part of suburban life, and began to return to the urban areas that their forefathers had abandoned.

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Opinion
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Poll

The runoff race for the 5th District congressional seat is set for Aug. 26. If the voting were today, which candidate would you support?

Al McAffrey
Tom Guild
Undecided
     View Results