View Full Version : OKC Urban Legend?



GreenBrush
06-01-2007, 10:25 PM
Hi, all.
I'm a long time lurker, but finally decided to post something....and it's a bit out of left field, honestly.
Anyway, there are a LOT of different legends (both real and urban) about Oklahoma City. For example, there's the "secret underground city" from many years ago, ghost stories about Carey Place, Belle Isle, etc.
This one, however, is one that I've not really seen any discussion on, either on this board or anywhere else on the Internet.
This is going to be a bit tricky to explain without having the aid of a map, but once you take a look at one, you'll see exactly what I'm trying to explain.
A few years ago, I worked at a local car rental agency, and we had a *huge* map of Oklahoma City on the wall behind the counter. One day, an elderly gentleman came in and told me a tale, that while interesting, leaves me a little suspicious.
Apparently, when Oklahoma City was expanding northward, two teams of surveyors/planners were to work towards each other, (one starting from the north working south, and the other starting south working north). So, they starting working towards each other...and missed because somebody's measurements were just a tad off. And this is why each street, from Council all the way east to Post, doesn't quite line up at Wilshire Blvd.
Now, being a polite young man, and seemingly raised right by my parents, I chose not to laugh at the elderly man's story. It seemed extremely implausible to me. Wouldn't they just extend the road by starting where it previously stopped, rather than starting from the middle of nowhere and working towards it?
But, it did make me think...why do many of the major north-south roads have that little "jog" at Wilshire?
Love the board...great conversations!!!

BailJumper
06-01-2007, 10:35 PM
Not sure about your main story, but the "underground city" is based on some hint of fact. Anyone remember the details? Wasn't there several underground places near downtown that were unearthed from an old Asian District or something? I may be getting this completely wrong, I just remember OETA did something on it several years ago.

Midtowner
06-01-2007, 10:57 PM
The underground city thing is absolutely true. I do believe there's something on Doug Loudenback's site regarding it.

Doug Dawgz Blog: Asian District - The Underground (http://dougdawg.blogspot.com/2006/10/asian-district-underground.html)

BDP
06-02-2007, 01:59 PM
What's weird is that they don't jog at the same place either. Western does it just before Wilshire. Penn does it below 63rd and kind of meanders through Nichols Hills until Wilshire. And May does it above Wilshire. Right? I never really thought of that before. I'm pretty sure Classen is the way it is because it was kind of an expressway with an Interurban on it that linked the core to Belle Isle.

As for another urban legend, I always heard that, during prohibition, there were underground tunnels connecting the capital to speakeasies, like the Hi-Lo, that were partially destroyed or filled in during construction of I-235 (Brodway Extension). I think parts of them still exist, at least according to some friends who swear they've been in parts of the one that connected to the Hi-Lo.

dismayed
06-02-2007, 03:13 PM
The underground city -- I've read that before in historical books in the downtown library that you can't check out. Pretty interesting site that you posted there Midtowner.

GreenBrush, I have actually heard this story about the survey teams as well! A long time ago I had a history teacher in high school that told our entire class this story, and he claimed it to be fact. I hadn't heard the legend mentioned again until today. Unfortunately I don't know if it is true or not.

soonerliberal
06-02-2007, 03:28 PM
I thought the curves in the streets were done to align with the curvature of the Earth. I could be wrong though.

GreenBrush
06-02-2007, 09:00 PM
What's weird is that they don't jog at the same place either. Western does it just before Wilshire. Penn does it below 63rd and kind of meanders through Nichols Hills until Wilshire. And May does it above Wilshire. Right? I never really thought of that before. I'm pretty sure Classen is the way it is because it was kind of an expressway with an Interurban on it that linked the core to Belle Isle.


Hi, BDP.
You're exactly right. Though almost all of them have some sort of jog, they aren't all in the same place. When driving, the jog on May seems to be the most noticeable to me. It's more like a chicane than a gentle curve! LOL.
Strangely enough, I read a book just last night after I posted that stated that surveyors missing one another is the reason why there's a jog on the western border of South Dakota where Montana and Wyoming meet.
Either there were a lot of incompetent surveyors back in the day, or both of these stories are complete BS!

OUSoonerfan3
06-02-2007, 09:58 PM
I have always heard Wilshire was a "correction line" road. A google search of the term turned up this tidbit: "

Provisions in the rectangular survey (government survey) system made to compensate for the curvature of the earth's surface. Every fourth township line (at 24-mile intervals) is used as a correction line on which the intervals between the north and south range lines are remeasured and corrected to a full six miles. "

John
06-03-2007, 02:50 AM
Also, in 1889 around the time of the land run, two separate teams of surveyors plotted city streets on either side of present day Sheridan Ave... You can see the difference in some places.

Thus beginning the north/south feud. ;)

mburlison
06-03-2007, 12:27 PM
Those jogs are correction lines, you'll find them along the same latitudes across the state. There is one south of Loyal, for example, one west of Fairview I can think of... while they may not "jog" the same, they end up w/ the same correction to the "section line".

windowphobe
06-03-2007, 01:45 PM
And Wilshire also marks a township line in the old six-by-six mile system. (It's six miles north of Reno; six miles south of Reno is the Cleveland County line.)

Pennsylvania from 63rd to about Westchester is in Nichols Hills, and those curves are by design:

"The streets were to follow the natural terrain of the country side, with the entrance to be at N.W. 63rd and Western. The long graceful sweep of the curving streets, [Nichols] decided, were not to go anyplace particular but were just to roam around the hills past the homes."

City of Nichols Hills - History of Nichols Hills Homepage (http://www.nicholshills.net/SectionIndex.asp?SectionID=63)

Prunepicker
06-03-2007, 02:04 PM
And Wilshire also marks a township line in the old six-by-six mile system. (It's six miles north of Reno; six miles south of Reno is the Cleveland County line.)

Pennsylvania from 63rd to about Westchester is in Nichols Hills, and those curves are by design:

"The streets were to follow the natural terrain of the country side, with the entrance to be at N.W. 63rd and Western. The long graceful sweep of the curving streets, [Nichols] decided, were not to go anyplace particular but were just to roam around the hills past the homes."

City of Nichols Hills - History of Nichols Hills Homepage (http://www.nicholshills.net/SectionIndex.asp?SectionID=63)

The 2 surveyor legend/theory doesn't seem plausible. The city would have taken one over the other.

The original map of Nichol's Hills in the management building in Nichol's Hills Plaza. It was designed as you said.

Britton was the same way. First came the township then came the roads.

In the 1940's Oklahoma City ended at N.W. 50th. That could have something to do with the way roads connect.

Prunepicker

windowphobe
06-03-2007, 02:38 PM
The 2 surveyor legend/theory doesn't seem plausible. The city would have taken one over the other.

At the time, there were two separate municipalities being formed, the one below Clarke Street (now Sheridan) taking the name "South Oklahoma." It was absorbed into its northern neighbor in 1890. (This was, incidentally, before the city of Capitol Hill, on the far side of the river, another matter entirely.)

jbrown84
06-04-2007, 12:51 PM
That's funny. I noticed those jogs, mostly at MacArthur, Council, and May, but I never put it together that they were all at Wilshire.

xpertinfun
06-04-2007, 08:09 PM
Heard something along the same lines about Grand Blvd........Like it was originally intended to work as a "beltline" around the city.

windowphobe
06-04-2007, 08:18 PM
More or less. W. H. Dunn, who'd done world-class work in Kansas City, was lured to OKC shortly after statehood: he worked up the first parks plan for the city, which included a regional park in each corner, connected by one long loop. In 1930 the city started acquiring rights of way, but things never came close to being finished. A couple of years ago I drove the entirety of the existing loop, just because.

dustbury.com: Saturday spottings (the Grand tour) (http://www.dustbury.com/archives/004097.html)

John
06-04-2007, 08:49 PM
Heard something along the same lines about Grand Blvd........Like it was originally intended to work as a "beltline" around the city.

It was a beltline around the city... With a park at each corner. Will Rogers, Lincoln, Trosper, and Woodson?