220px-Bricktown_Canal_Water_Taxis_in_Oklahoma_CityI leave this morning for home after a wonderful stay at Oklahoma City. As I have written before, I have a particular affection for this beautiful city and its citizens. Indeed, I have been saddened of late with the continued mismanagement of my home city of Chicago where politicians have run the economy into the ground through waste, runaway pension plans, and excessive taxation. The contrast with Oklahoma City is striking. This has always been exceptionally well-run. The city is continuing a long investment and downtown improvement plan which has transformed the city with new parks, buildings, and recreational areas. This has been done without incurring a huge debt by carefully balancing new revenue with new construction. The Olympic-level rowing facility near downtown is an example of the creative planning by the city — a beautiful addition to the riverfront that is making the city a global presence in the sport. The BIDs or business improvement districts have been fueled by an intense civic pride at Oklahoma City that is evident everywhere you turn. Where Chicago is an example of the failure of a political system, Oklahoma City is a model of how a city can marshal its resources, particularly its people, to improve the city.

250px-St._Joseph's_Old_Cathedral_from_the_Oklahoma_City_National_Memorial220px-OkcnmThe success of this city is evident in its memorial. The city came together after the bombing and, in true Oklahoma style, created a massive effort to collectively consider and approve a design for the memorial. The result is in my view the single greatest modern memorial in the United States — a moving and simple space at the site of the former Oklahoma City federal building. This was done without rancor and without debt. It was done as a unified community to express profound sorrow and continued unity.

I have had an incredible time with my hosts from the Oklahoma City Town Hall speaking series. This is an incredible program and the people of this city cannot be more gracious and friendly. Even coming from Virginia (which likes to think of itself as a pretty friendly place), Oklahoma City is incredible in its universal welcoming environment. After a wonderful event at St. Luke’s, I was given a tour of the city and had drinks at the top of the Devon Tower which has an incredible view of the city. We then went to Bricktown for great steak dinner (Oklahomans do not take a backseat on steaks to the Texas). This is an incredibly fun and interesting city — a model for how a city can flourish with the cooperation of civil and business groups.

Here are a few pictures of the city park, Margaret Annis Boys Arboretum, Will Rogers park, and Devon Tower. The pictures start with the gorgeous Skirvin Hotel, one of my favorite hotels in the world. The old elegant hotel has been restored with loving care and remains a grand old lady at the center of the city. It even has a cool old story about being haunted. The service is fantastic and it is a break from the usual cookie cutter chain hotel. Even though owned by Hilton, it has retained its charm and unique character.



















  1. I am an Oklahoma native and I can truly tell you that what you are seeing is the
    frosting on a very rotten cake. Greed has run my beautiful state right into the ground. They’ve taken so much from her that she is collapsing. Talk to the people who live further away from the City and you’ll see. You should be able to go for a ride in the country and not have the road open up and swallow your whole car.

  2. Mr. Turley,

    Thank you for your kind comments about Oklahoma City. The friendly nature of the people here is what just seems normal to those of us who live here. If you ever have the occasion to visit our city again I would like to suggest that you consider visiting our Stockyard’s City area. It is like a step back into time but it is real and not just a tourist attraction.

    Again, thank you for your kind words.

  3. I like Oklahoma and Okies. There is a large Indian population in Oklahoma. Indians are some of my favorite people. Yes, they do get beef and pork and have good BBQ. They are half way between KC and Texas, and their BBQ is sorta a hybrid of those great BBQ traditions. I ate some great BBQ in Oklahoma. It was a funky restaurant behind an antique store. I mean, you walk through the store, through a cage fence, and there is the restaurant.

    I have one beef w/ the state, and that is their regulation of Indian casinos. When you make a bet @ the blackjack table you have to pay a $.50 tax on every hand! So, you lay a C-note down, get your chips, and w/ your $5 chips they give you some $.50 chips that you lay next to your bet. Here’s what perplexed me. You could make a $5 bet or a $25 bet and it was the same tax! I got hot quickly, was betting $25-40 a hand, won ~$150 in 15 minutes and got the hell out!

    Having traveled this country, there is what I consider the Steak Belt. It runs from Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma to Texas. You can get good steaks in other states, but those 4 states top the list.

  4. OoooakLahoma, where the sun comes shooting down the plains..
    But, everything in moderation. Including moderation. Civil rules apply. Civility is important.

  5. Although I appreciate the memorial in OKC, I think Maya Lin’s Vietnam Memorial is the more haunting. Having said that, OKC is very friendly and I have enjoyed my few stays there.

    For those of you thinking of buying property, they have earthquakes as well as tornadoes. We stayed with an architect friend and it was the only house I have every been in that has a safe room on the main floor.

  6. My mother was a “Polynesian” dancer for crooner Vic Damon’s traveling roadshow during the early sixties and encountered the occasional racism one might have expected in certain parts of the country. One place she did not encounter any problems at all was in Oklahoma. She had said they were among the most decent, warmest, and tolerant people she met on the road. It’s pleasing to read that Oklahoma City is doing so well today.

Comments are closed.