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Thread: What makes a city popular?

  1. #1

    Default What makes a city popular?

    Maybe popular isn't the right word but for lack of a better or less succinct word I'll say popular.

    Here's what I mean. Back in the 50s OKC was larger by population than Phoenix, but now Phoenix is exploding and is a major league city with the NFL. I know their team sucks, but that's not my point. I've never been to Phoenix so maybe their growth isn't all good...enlighten me.

    I read one poster on these boards saying that early in the 20th century OKC was on track to be the big city, cultural center of the Southwest instead of Dallas. Why? What happened? Did Dallas make a smart move that we did not to garner that title?

    With the talk of the Sonics moving here it's hard not to compare ourselves to Seattle. They have a lot of very prosperous companies that call their metro home. Was it just luck or were they doing something that we weren't?

    Now don't get me wrong, I have no desire for OKC to be a Dallas Jr. or Seattle II. I like OKC and its metro and I like who we are as a metro and state. I actually think that that could be a selling point of OKC. Always when you see list of best places to live or best quality of living, it's not the big cities on the list, it's the smaller, sleepy ones because they have big city living without all the congestion and drawbacks of a Chicago or New York. I think we should still be OKC not something we aren't like some "progressive" anything goes city. We should embrace who we are but be the best OKC we can.

    So what can we do to be a big league city with a small town atmosphere? How do we get major corporations to call this home? And I mean serious stuff that could concievably be done. Not pie-in-the-sky stuff like building the world's tallest sky scraper or building a completely glassed in airport on piers in the middle of a huge lake.

    Thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions?

    Drop some knowledge on me.

  2. #2

    Default Re: What makes a city popular?

    An educated work force?

  3. Default Re: What makes a city popular?

    Schools are extremely important at this point too. A larger city with its urban district is taken as it is...in a place like OKC where we aren't urban to the point of Dallas or somewhere, it's important that we find a way to improve OKCPS. So many of these companies would have employees that live in that school district, yet wouldnt feel comfortable sending their kids there. I don't really have a problem with the primary education in OKCPS, but the secondary education is horrible. They can't pay the teachers well enough to attract large enough numbers of really good teachers. There are a lot of good ones in the district, but they need more. The district has made great strides in the last 5 years, but they still have a long way to go. Plus, they need to get the parents more involved.

    Which leads me to another point...family interaction and connection.

    A city needs family ties. The parent/student realtionship spills over to ever facet of a child's life. If the parent is supportive and is there, then the child will do better in school and life. I think we can only make this happen with a better support from the community in service to young folks. Youth centers, activities, etc.....things to keep the kids occupied in their free time and out of trouble.

    Though, I suppose these are sort of the general problems in any city. But I think you can trace most of Dallas and Houston's boom to oil. They hit it bigger and more broadly than we did because of the the laws of the time, so the bust didn't kill them like it did us. By that time, their economy had diversified enough to handle it....ours didn't. Imagine what OKC would be now if it weren't for the bust.

  4. #4

    Default Re: What makes a city popular?

    Bomber, while there are a lot of problems in OKC schools, probably the biggest one is tenure.

    Schools need to be able to get rid of incompetent teachers.

  5. #5

    Default Re: What makes a city popular?

    What's wrong with being "progressive?" Actually, OKC is progressive. If we want to be a major league city, we need to be a little more "anything goes," or, by definition, we are excluding people who may want to live here.

    Not everyone has a family of four, 1.2 dogs, a mortgage, and goes to church every Sunday. If that is our future, Amarillo here we come.

    The fact is, we have a thriving arts scene, a rapidly improving dining scene, a decent music scene: these are all things young people look for when they want to live somewhere. Gay, straight, black, or white, we can offer something for everyone.

    If you want to live on golf course and go to a megachurch: we have what you're looking for. If you're into art and live music: we have what you're looking for (mostly).

    Nothing wrong with being progressive. In fact, the whole point of this website and things like MAPS in the first place are built around progressive concepts.

    We all want progress. How that is defined person to person may differ. For some, it's beautification. For others, it's better urban planning and architecture. For still others, it's those things and more.

    If we want to be a big-league city we are going to have to embrace what big cities offer: diversity and options. I think as a city we're moving in the right direction.

  6. #6

    Default Re: What makes a city popular?

    I believe one of the problems is direct airline flights. As we get more of those, it's easier to attract businesses. It's a pain in the neck to have to connect through Dallas, Chicago or even quiet airports like Memphis. It would be nice to be a hub.

  7. #7

    Default Re: What makes a city popular?

    Education on every level is the key to a great city. The best cities, not necessarily the biggest, have the most educated people per capita.

  8. #8

    Default Re: What makes a city popular?

    Phoenix became "popular" with the advent of central air-conditioning and the exodus of people from California. This is as per my son-in-law who lives in Scottdale.

    OKC and Dallas were on par with each other until American Airlines made Love Field a hub, and the Johnson/MacNamara machine funneled all those defense dollars to Texas. Having Don Meredith as QB didn't hurt either. As per my observations.

    My second observation is actually Yogi Berra's priceless quip "The place is so popular, nobody goes there anymore." This weekend I heard of a couple of artists who moved their gallery and loft from San Francisco to the square in Enid America. Go figure...

  9. #9

    Default Re: What makes a city popular?

    I was just, 5 minutes ago, sitting in our lunch room here in St. Louis. The talk turned to bridges (the tragedy in Minneapolis) and then to rivers. I remarked that Oklahoma City had canals and a new river taxi service and everybody around the table broke into laughter. One of them said "I'm sure Oklahoma City is very nice, but an artificially built river in the middle of a prairie...give me a break." Another said "new cities, like Oklahoma City, have a blank slate to build whatever they want. It might be planned beautifully, but isn't that kind of boring?"

    Perception is key, marketing the hell out of OKC is key. We can do all the right things but if nobody knows it, we are never going to be a "popular" city. It does not matter how much we "expatriates" talk up OKC, people who have never been there are only going to believe what is re-inforced again and again in the news, on TV, in popular culture. A permanent professional team will be a start...anything that is not related to oil, tornadoes, cowboys or college football would be a start.

    OKC also has to have plentiful job opportunities for college graduates who are not in the oil industry. Beg, borrow, steal, or, more appropriately incubate, opportunities in finance, medical research, biotech, marketing, anything that gives people an opportunity. Bring college grads in for interviews at these types of companies and the city will sell itself.

  10. #10

    Default Re: What makes a city popular?

    Interesting comments stlokc, and I think this is precisely the perception some people have of Oklahoma City and other "new" cities. But what do Dallas and Phoenix have that is less boring? I went to the Fiesta Bowl last January, and decided I'd experience urban Phoenix by staying downtown rather than in Scottsdale or Glendale. I asked for a list of restaurants at the hotel desk when we got in. We had trouble finding one open late evening. Downtown was one of the most boring I'd ever been in. And yet, if you ask the average man on the street, who's never visited, about Phoenix, I bet their perception of it is far better than that of OKC, which has a downtown I'd much rather spend time in. It's size, it's professional teams, etc that gives people a more favorable impression, even if they've never visited.

  11. Default Re: What makes a city popular?

    Quote Originally Posted by stlokc View Post
    It might be planned beautifully, but isn't that kind of boring?
    That guy is spot on.

  12. #12

    Default Re: What makes a city popular?

    I have been to Phoenix and I agree with you.

    For what it's worth, the people I was eating lunch with would say exactly the same thing about Dallas or Houston that they did about OKC. They don't know any better. But you're never going to be able to please everybody. In St. Louis, they put a premium on history and old, densely packed urban neighborhoods and it will be very hard to replicate that in Oklahoma or Texas or Arizona.

    I'm not that familiar with Phoenix's economy, but if they are growing that fast, they must have jobs in abundance. That really is a key. Grow jobs and grow quality of life (it was said before and I agree, be progressive and open to everybody, and do lots more of what OKC is already doing) and then market your successes like crazy. It's a lot easier said than done, but I think other cities were doing it for 30 or 40 years while OKC rested on its laurels. There is no other reason why Dallas, Texas should have leapfrogged us except they just wanted it more.

  13. #13

    Default Re: What makes a city popular?

    Quote Originally Posted by CuatrodeMayo View Post
    That guy is spot on.
    Yeah he was.

    Ive only lived in okc for a little over a year now and this is what ive found so far.

    -People here like their suburbs and dont like to leave them.
    -All shopping areas must be directly off the interstate or a toll road, preferably with texas turn arounds.
    -There is very little well kept up historic areas because the general trend here is to build a much bigger house as far out in edmond as you can get it. Or go south to norman and do the same thing.
    -Its completely normal to drive 25-40 miles each way to work. Just as long as you dont actually have to live in okc.
    -Its completely fine to shut down a large retail store because a mall is considered 'ghetto' and locate it 3 miles down the road in a suburb.

    Its just can seem like a very generic city, with very generic people.

    To me, nothing really represents OKC that i couldnt very easily find in any other town.

  14. #14

    Default Re: What makes a city popular?

    I traveled to STL in the early 90's frequently. My impression of the city then was that it was awfully poor and run down and kind of depressing. I guess I felt like it was kind of an old place that was not really keeping up and that the problems were proving insurmountable to the leadership. Certainly was not very business friendly as I recall. Rather eastern culture I thought. From what's written here there must have been a pretty good turn around?

  15. #15

    Default Re: What makes a city popular?

    Phoenix has mountains and luxury desert spas. That helps a bit. I agree also with the "faux planned" concept. We don't want that. We want sensible urban planning and some zoning to enforce beautification, but we don't want a sterile, Disneyland (think Las Colinas, Texas) feel.

    We need to be a little more wide open to attract all kinds of people to our city. People used to say the same stuff about Austin, Texas.

    If people like it, they will tell others to visit or move here and we will grow.

    Think of all those people who were transferred here for the FAA. A lot of them were in NYC and decided not to come; for those who did come, many of them will like it and spread the news about how nice it is.

    One of the best comments I heard from a transplant was how, as she put it, difficult it is to make friends here. She has been here for three years.

    One reason is that OKCians tend to keep to themselves, or their already established cliques, and because we are so automobile driven and suburban in many ways, it is hard for people to connect with each other unless they go to a big church.

    I was in NYC two weeks ago and San Fran a month ago and it is amazing to be in a city in which so many people get along and cross paths with each other on a daily basis.

  16. #16

    Default Re: What makes a city popular?

    Quote Originally Posted by soonerguru View Post
    One reason is that OKCians tend to keep to themselves, or their already established cliques, and because we are so automobile driven and suburban in many ways, it is hard for people to connect with each other unless they go to a big church.
    My previous job right out of school was working as a contractor for a eng. firm at tinker. People who i worked with either lived in yukon, edmond, hefner area, moore, or norman. Thats it, not a single person actually lived remotely close to another and as soon as we left work that was it. No hanging out on the weekends or even having our paths cross outside of work. Even my new company is like that but with south okc area and the smaller towns that surround it.

    People just seem very detachted from each other here - No sense of community at all

  17. #17

    Default Re: What makes a city popular?

    Flinty Sooner,
    Your remark is just about as accurate as the remark that Oklahoma City is boring because it so well planned. There are elements of truth to both remarks, which is why they sting, but again, it's perception.

    St. Louis is a very old city. It appears run down in parts because it was very big and densely packed before the advent of the automobile and has suffered a tremendous amount of "white flight." Certain neighborhoods have been rejuvenated beautifully and are perfect examples of exactly the right type of urban renewal. Other neighborhoods look like war zones. There is a lot of money here because there are 8 Fortune 500 companies and 20 Fortune 1000 companies and they spread their money to generations of family members and countless cultural institutions. St. Louis is definitely worth a visit if you haven't been here since the early 1990's.

    As much as I love St. Louis, it's probably not a model for OKC because it's origins, age, character are so different. And, in certain aspects, OKC is heads-and-tails the better city. In others, it's definitely not.

  18. #18

    Default Re: What makes a city popular?

    Actually at the time I was living in Kansas City and then later in Dallas. I felt like OKC was kind of similar to St. Louis in being overwhelmed by problems at the time. I was surprised when I returned here that MAPS had actually produced results.

  19. #19

    Default Re: What makes a city popular?

    I couldn't help but notice the comment about "eastern culture" and how that somehow is not business friendly.

    Jeez, NYC is the capital of our entire economic system. There are more Fortune 500s in a handful of blocks there than in Dallas and Houston put together.

    Been to DC-NoVa? Non business-friendly? What about Jersey and the big companies headquartered there, or Boston, and all of the massive bio-tech companies?

    This "sun belt is business 'friendly' and East Coast is not" meme is way overplayed. We might cut our taxes and create all manner of incentives in our desperation to lure companies here, but the corporate infrastructure on both coasts is HUGE already.

    The South used to be agricultural, poor and rural. That cities like Atlanta and Dallas have grown is great, but they still do not trump the coastal cities for GDP output.

  20. #20

    Default Re: What makes a city popular?

    My humble 10 cents worth on Dallas. I feel that the Dallas explosion of growth to a world class city coincided with the assasination of Pres. Kennedy. The city got nationwide and worldwide publicity, free. Sure, no one wants that kind of pub, but the old saying that goes "any publicity is better than no publicity" applies to Dallas. I'm not saying that was the sole reason, but a major factor.

  21. #21

    Default Re: What makes a city popular?

    Great point, Sooner8693. The same thing happened in OKC with the bombing. Like it or not, all of that publicity was good for our city.

  22. Default Re: What makes a city popular?

    I lived in OKC nearly 5 years before relocating back to Florida. I will say that I absolutely loved the time I spent in the state. I did however, feel like my career became stagnant while living in the state. I took a job doing just about the same thing here in Florida that I was doing in Oklahoma..working for a private company in IT. First of all, in Oklahoma, I worked with far less educated people. I'd say the percent of college educated people at my workplace in Oklahoma was about 40%, and that’s probably over-estimating. Secondly, pay. Yes, Oklahoma is a cheaper place to live (well, only if you don't include downtown OKC) but the salaries are 15-20% less than can be made in other states. I received nearly a 30% pay raise upon taking my new job. Thirdly, State income tax in Oklahoma took nearly 250 dollars out of my paycheck every month. That’s quite a big hunk and I have yet to figure out where that money went. It defiantly wasn’t being used to repair roads (or bridges for that matter NewsOK: In Oklahoma: We are worst in the nation) Change is a gradual process though, and it will take time before these types of changes can be implemented and take affect. I do think Oklahoma needs to do a better job of keeping college graduates in-state. Just about everyone I knew who went to college in state left for Texas or another state after they graduated. Maybe some sort of incentive can be offered...

  23. #23

    Default Re: What makes a city popular?

    Quote Originally Posted by flintysooner View Post
    Actually at the time I was living in Kansas City and then later in Dallas. I felt like OKC was kind of similar to St. Louis in being overwhelmed by problems at the time. I was surprised when I returned here that MAPS had actually produced results.
    I've actually never thought of it in those terms, but you do make a good point. St. Louis had a generation of terrible leadership which is one reason it went downhill for a while. It is stronger now.

    As far as "Eastern" culture, it can be good or bad, in my opinion. From what I am told by countless people I know that live on the east coast, many of them transplated Oklahomans, the reality is that people there tend to be far better educated and also tend to work very hard for longer hours. They innovate and they produce. At the same time, it can be hard to break in to the business world without the right pedigree and there is a hell of a lot more competition for everything. So take that for what it's worth.

  24. #24

    Default Re: What makes a city popular?

    Oh yes I wasn't making a value judgment about eastern culture. I was surprised that the cultures (loosely defined) of St. Louis, Kansas City, and Dallas were so different. Before I lived in each place I had assumed they would be more similar to Oklahoma City.

    But I found Kansas City to "feel" more Midwestern and St. Louis more Eastern. It also surprised to find more ethnic influences in each city. For instance in Kansas City I was surprised by the strong Sicilian influence. That was just not something I was very aware of in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma City still seems more integrated to me as does Dallas.

    Dallas felt more at home to me. Except it seemed just really, really fast paced. But the fast pace was kind of attractive, exhilarating even, especially at first.

    The attraction to Dallas certainly and to a lesser extent to Kansas City and St. Louis was work.

    Beyond that though I think that feeling of being home or making a home has a lot to do with feeling safe and happy and find fulfillment.

  25. #25

    Default Re: What makes a city popular?

    I understand what you're saying now, Flinty. STL has always had a large Jewish population, and it was a gateway to the West, although it was definitely more East Coast in influence.

    You are right about OKC being more integrated. In fact, few cities compare to OKC when it comes to its racial integration, IMO. This is a good thing.

    Look up the road at Tulsa: very segregated city. This, in my view, has had something to do with its crime problem.

    Dallas is definitely segregated, but not as much as Tulsa, or, gasp, Austin. In Austin, everything East of I-35 is black and hispanic, and west of I-35 almost entirely white.

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