View Full Version : Texas and Oklahoma: Apples and Oranges?

10-18-2004, 11:54 PM
I spent nine days with my wife in the Houston, TX MSA. We realy enjoyed our vacation, our visit with her family, and I have learned very much. This trip to Texas was an eye opener, and here is why.

For years I've listened to Oklahomans rave on and on about Texas and how great it is, and how much it puts our state to shame. In all honesty, I am looking forward to moving to Texas. It will be whole new experience.

However, as inviting as Texas is to many in Oklahoma, I witnessed many uninviting parts of Texas. I once read in the Tulsa Now forum of a member who posted that crossing the border from Oklahoma into Texas was like passing from the dark into the light. He was traveling on US 75 en route to Dallas to hook up with I-45 to Houston. I traveled I-35 from OKC to Dallas before heading to Houston. Believe it or not, I saw progress on both sides of the state line.

I-35 is for the most part being rebuilt clear to the Texas border, and there seened to be very little litter along Oklahoma's stretch of interstate. The on an off ramps are long with allowable flexibility. Once crossing into Texas, the on and off ramps are about as long as a driveway. The only evidence of progress in Gainesville is its outlet mall... not much outside of that. Yes, there was a lot of construction in Sanger and Denton, but as much as Oklahomans preach about how Texas highwyas are better, it seems that TxDOT does not have the IQ level required to widen I-35 where it is most critical... through Denton. In SE Dallas, there is a huge eyesore to behold, and it makes Dallas look uninviting.

In Houston along the Hardy Tollway, miles and miles of blight made Oklahoma City's poorest neighborhoods look middle class. No joke.

Indeed, Texas has a lot of job opportunuties and a large robust economy. After all, there are pro teams aplenty as well as a lot of shopping, and classy areas such as the Galleria area in Houston. It was really nice. However, does that make it okay for Texas to have dumpy looking structures along a highway? Is it okay for Texas to have a lot of litter along its highways (yes, it really does)?

We talk about Oklahoma like if things can't get any worse than this. We make it so that if we see one abandoned house or trailer near a highway in Oklahoma, suddenly the wole state is poor. After seeing what I've seen in Texas, it makes me appreciate Oklahoma City a lot more.

I'll be honest, I love Houston's buildings. They are architectural wonders. There economy, schools, and transportation is an example to follow, however, Texas infrastructure has to be good to keep up with 22 million residents. Yes, Texas as no state income tax. They sell cold strong beer and wine in grocery stores and they have a lottery. Most of all, Texans have their fair share of conservatives. Hey, Texas banned the lottery until 1991. These are things Oklahoma can change, but it takes pride and a pioneer spirit, the two things most of Oklahoma does not have. It seems we take our state for granted, and I hope someday that can change.

10-19-2004, 12:14 AM
I wish I could go on to say more, but you really hit the nail on the head OKC Pulse. My trips to Dallas and San Antonio are very similar. San Antonio's slums make Capitol Hill look like Paradise. And Dallas highways seem to be littered moreso than ours. I made that comment last time I went to Dallas. I've always questioned why we look up to Dallas so much. Afterall, there's nothing really there to attract me as a vacationer. I'd much rather go to Santa Fe or Denver, before I went to Dallas.

Anyways, thanks OKC Pulse for presenting your observations. I know it always helps one to appreciate OKC more when they leave for awhile. I know floater has told me that many times....he now lives in Cleveland.

OKC Pulse, we'll definitely miss a dear Okie, but at the same time we hope that your observations of life in Texas, will only help stir up debate here and at the same time in our city. By the way, Mick Cornett does read this board, so I hope you post more comments from Texas in the years to come as you complete your move there.

10-19-2004, 06:52 AM
It's true, you're comparing apples to oranges.

I like OKC for the fact that although we complain about it sometimes, there really is no traffic. Sure, traffic slows down or gets crowded during rush hour.. But go to Dallas or Houston (or Tulsa) sometime. THAT is traffic!

Bricktown and our other venues are not crowded at all. I can go somewhere in Bricktown on a Friday night and actually find a place to sit! In Dallas, you have West End and that Green-something area about 4 miles east (Greensboro?). It's packed wall to wall with people. You can't hear a damned thing and if that's your thing... cool. It's not mine though.

I actually think that Bricktown is better than West End in many ways. Much better design.. Better restaurants, better canal (we have one), just better all around. West End does have The Palm though.. I don't think OKC folks would pay those prices :D

For all this town offers, I have no intentions of moving. Big, big cities are fun places to visit. I don't think I'd want to live in them though.

10-19-2004, 09:26 AM
I agree with you about the traffic in OKC. We have it made, especially when it comes to rush hour traffic. I have been to Dallas before during their rush hour, and it is not a pretty site. It is bumper to bumper, with motorists switching lanes back and forth. I thought OKC was bad, that was, until I went to Dallas.

On the highway’s, if you are in the left lane, you’d better be going 80 MPH or more or you will get run over. Texan’s are no respector of speed limits. And, if they are in the left lane and they need to exit, they will just drive over four lanes to get to the right lane.

I’m like Midtowner….big cities are nice to visit, but I would not want to live in one.

10-19-2004, 09:41 AM
Traffic congestion is opinion.

If you have driven enough major cities, you learn to navigate around what you call heavy traffic. Most drivers in Oklahoma City are scared to change lanes (even I am on occasion), they will stop on the acceleration lane (not as much as they use to, thank God), not let people onto the freeway (that creates problems and is dangerous and rude), drive WAY to slow, and more.

On surface streets, they drive too slow. Example. On the I-240 access road (SW 74) the speed limit is 45. Most drivers will not drive over 35. That creates problems. They will not pull into the intersection when they are waiting to turn left on an uncontrolled intersection. If you drove down Hollywood, Blvd in Los Angeles, and did not pull inot the intersection, you would run out of gas before you could turn.

There are many other examples I could cite. In other words, the typical driver in Oklahoma City does not have the skill level to drive freeway traffic, and quite often, surface traffic as well.

In Los Angeles, the footage you see of the freeway traffic is during rush hour (an oxymoron), and on the busiest freeway in town. Either the Hollywood Freeway or the San Diego Freeway (US 101 and Interstate 405 respectively). This gives many people the false impression that the freeways are always like that. They are not. Many are as clear as Oklahoma City. More traffic, yes. However, the same patterns.

We need to do several things. One. Learn how to drive. Two. Widen the freeways (especially redesigning I-240 to include better acceleration lanes). Three. Plan and start a rapid transit system. The latter includes re-educating the public on the advantages and getting those tapes out of their brains that rapid transit and buses are for the under paid and for bums.

I have driven in almost ALL major cities in this country. Including ours. Keith, we ARE a big city. Every city is the same when it comes to freeway traffic. They are all crowded. Some, Pittsburgh for example, have worse streets than Oklahoma City. Plus, more stoppers than Oklahoma City. (a stopper is one of these idiots that stop on an acceleration lane, ie: entrance ramp).

10-19-2004, 09:57 AM
The population of Dallas proper is 1188580.

The population of OKC proper is 506132.

Dallas is just over double the size of OKC and covers a much smaller geographic area (I'm not even discussing suburbs -- if you want to include those, Dallas ranks 9th in the country with 5,221,801 inhabitants. That's almost 2 million more than the entire state of Oklahoma (3,511,532 est. in 2003).

Apples to oranges is an understatement.

10-19-2004, 10:02 AM
Yes. I am aware of that. I lived in that hick hole for eight years.

My point is simple. ALL major cities have the same problem. If you factor in everything, Oklahoma City's traffic is the same. The freeways are narrower, no car pool lanes, narrower major surface streets.

I find it funny. You cite Dallas, but do not mention the other major cities, and apparantly do not take everything into consideration.

10-19-2004, 02:38 PM
Yeah, it's comparing apples and oranges in terms of size. But like comparing OU and OSU to other Big 12 schools, there are similarities that makes it convenient. You have similar geographic features, political attitudes, social folkways. That's why in terms of policies, it's useful to look at, because the acceptance of policies is largely guided by values of residents.

Economically, it depends on what you're measuring. Per capita stats are usually doable, but not aggregate (total sum) stats. For example, I think it's fair to compare OKC to the other two in median household income but not gross domestic product (the amount of goods and services an area produces). Sure, larger metro areas may have more rich people, but they almost always have a lot more poor as well (as okcpulse and Patrick have said).

Now in terms of attractiveness. Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

As for me, I have a love-hate relationship with Texas. I hate the traffic, the anything goes policies (Houston is quite unsightly because it purposely has no zoning regulations), and its arrogance. At the same time, I admire that pride (Texas history is taught as if it was just as important as US and world history). I like their ability to let minority populations and opinions flourish -- liberals in Austin, Hispanics in San Antonio, the hipness of some areas like Deep Ellum in Dallas, the arts in Ft. Worth. There's also a natural entrepreneurship and tolerance for risk that I wish we had more of in OKC and OK.

Dallas and Houston have nice skylines, but like the rest of that bravado, a lot of it is superficial. Dallas' CBD has a sky high vacancy rate and Houston is a textbook example of sprawl and air pollution. Nice to look at, but...

Like a lot of others, I say that if you want to look at a cool city, look at Austin. A terrific balance between liberal and conservative, growth and natural beauty, diverse economy, hip yet family-friendly. Their transportation systems need some work catching up with growth, though.

10-19-2004, 09:28 PM
The mean incomes of all major Texas cities are much higher than OKC.

Dallas, for example (our closest major Texas city) has an estimated mean income of 55,218 compared to 46,853 for OKC.

The cost of living is higher in Dallas, but that gap has been tightening. Especially following the May 3rd tornado, real estate prices skyrocketed and have been catching up ever since.

But again, in terms of what a 5-million person metroplex can offer versus a 1 million person metroplex, well, it'll just be a very different set of offerings.

Apples to oranges.

10-19-2004, 11:42 PM
Economic offerings between the two cities are obviously like comparing apples to oranges. But, as you mention, that's because of the population difference betweent the two cities.

I think the main point OKC Pulse was trying to make concerned quality of life issues though. He was trying to point out that the quality of life and appearance of cities in Texas wasn't anything to brag about. Texas cities have their own litter problems, slum areas, etc.