Notes on the Geography of Oklahoma: Norman in Sum: Take Two
The negative take on Norman? Well, there's probably more than one, but here's the "growthmania" version. Yes, the city has a plan to control growth; it even is struggling to hatch a greenbelt program. But such things are small potatoes alongside the terra-gobblers.
Oh, for that old Dodge of the 440 cubes, the one with the four-barrel carburetor that growled every time it saw a freeway on-ramp.
Enough octane nostalgia. Here's Interstate 35, which helped tie Norman to Oklahoma City--20 miles up the road--and accelerated the growth of the already booming post-war town.
A couple of miles farther up the interstate. The traffic is light, but this is Sunday morning, early. The open ground is the only gap left between Norman and Oklahoma City.
An industrial park in the offing. The land on the right was part of a World War II naval-air station. It's taken a long, long time to get permissions, but the machinery's moving now, and some nice boxes should soon appear--and did indeed, a few years after this picture was taken.
Feel the commuting field? The pulse of "journey-to-work"? This, too, was taken from Mt. Williams, looking across Interstate 35 at apartments fringing the road. Beyond lies the "better half" of Norman, at least in the minds of residents. Single-family dwellings stretch west half a mile until the ground slopes down to the flood plain of the Canadian River.
And you thought Norman was culturally deprived! Here we are, still marooned on Mt. Williams but in sight of Norman's 14-screen behemoth. True, there were people silly enough to think that 14 screens meant 14 different films, but they soon wised up. Time moved on, too: this theater in due course became the "old" theater where no self-respecting OU student went. They went up the road a few miles to an even fancier place.
Main Street just east of the interstate. How much land was paved for this intersection? Enough for a couple of decent-sized lots, at least.
Journeying west on Main Street: Sooner Mall is on the right. In the left background, the building built by the Bank of Oklahoma, previously the American Exchange Bank of Norman, a victim of the 1980s bust.
Freshly paved: a section-line road on the northeast side of town. Just itching for houses and traffic. Build it, and they will come.
This is the fabled "serpentine road" that meanders through the former naval-air station. Why serpentine? Could it be a tribute to Louis Sulliven and Lewis Mumford and all the other organophiles? Don't bet on it. Curving roads have a greater frontage length, which translates to higher lease revenues.
Just west of the interstate, Lindsay Street was being extended in 2000 to join with an existing road. The Canadian River runs behind those trees, but the city made no effort to provide river access or even a river view. Instead, the road was to be flanked by private developments. As of 2014, none had been built.
Elsewhere, Norman's doing its best to cover that red dirt with houses. Handsome ones, too, as you can see.
Folks need services.
No power shortages. No powerline shortages, either.
Now we're cookin. Lord knows, it took long enough. (Full disclosure: traffic's not usually this bad. This picture was taken just after an OU football game. Still, try any arterial street at peak hours, and it won't be much better, especially during the school year.)
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