Retro Post: 10 Years Ago Today, 19-Aug, Part 2

For the next few weeks, we’ll be observing an anniversary: 10 years since we left San Francisco and moved to Ann Arbor. I’ll repost articles Frank and I wrote at that time for our Ann Arbor blog, aSquared. Bittersweet, very definitely they will be, bittersweet.

[It’s aSquared’s First Birthday … we’re celebrating by looking back at events from a year ago … skip these retro posts if you’re not into sentimentality.]

‘Frank speaks more eloquently than I can. I have too much history and other stuff mixed up in my 20 years in Okiehoma to be objective …

Oklahoma City, OK

‘Population 506,132 (2000 census). Capital city of Oklahoma. One of the nation’s largest cities in land area (more than 600 square miles), it covers all or part of three counties (Oklahoma, Cleveland, and Canadian). Seat of Oklahoma County. Home to Tinker Air Force Base, Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center, National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, the National Softball Hall of Fame and Museum, Myriad Botanical Gardens, and the Oklahoma State Museum of History.

‘Oklahoma City sprung up when Benjamin Harrison signed a declaration on 2 March 1889 opening up what had been the only “Unassigned Lands” in the Oklahoma Territory (i.e., lands not already “assigned” as Indian reservations) to white settlement. At noon on 22 April 1889, almost 10,000 settlers poured into the area and staked claims at the Oklahoma Station, a stop along the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railway. The town that became Oklahoma City was incoporated on 2 May 1890. Oklahoma City was designated the new state’s capital in 1910. Oklahoma City rapidly became a center of crop and cattle distribution, meatpacking, and wholesale distribution, and oil was struck on 4 December 1928.

‘I don’t know what I thought I was going to find in Oklahoma, but I was pleasantly surprised. Oklahoma City is huge and sprawling, but I took exception to the characterization of it in my handy Lonely Planet USA guide as “like a four-door 1976 Coupe de Ville with a broken bumper and bullhorns on the front: It’s big and ugly but oozes with a style all its own.” I’ll agree with the last part: it has a style all its own. It’s not big and ugly though, or at least not what I saw of it. What I saw was a city with a vibrant, bustling downtown and entertainment district (Bricktown); a city with the sense and the commitment to memorialize, and to memorialize movingly, one of the most horrific events to occur on American soil (the April 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building); a city with a lot of attractive neighborhoods with big backyards and green lawns and brick houses that looked like comfortable places to live; and a city with a solid identity and a definite culture and sensibility—one that I couldn’t put my finger on, but one which I liked. I regretted not being able to spend more time here.

‘I know that might make Steve cringe, because he has a lot of emotions and experiences wrapped up with living in Oklahoma that I as a visitor (and a brief one at that) don’t have (although I couldn’t help but notice a certain pride in place in him when he was showing me around), and I’m sure it would make the likes of James Inhofe and Ernest Istook cringe, but there it is.

‘—Posted by Frank at 23:59:00 | 19-Aug-03