In September, I had the opportunity to take my first trip to Oklahoma City – the OKC. In town for about four days for the International Economic Development Council’s (IEDC) annual conference, I knew that to balance the great conference content and my desire to see and experience the city I would have to be super intentional and experimental when it came to travel. My first takeaway is that OKC is a very accessible city, easy to navigate and featuring multiple modes of transit. I walked close to 40 miles while in town, learned to ride the scooters that were conveniently corralled around the city, and took advantage of the streetcar. In no time at all I was getting around town so quickly and easily I felt like a native. Here are some other takeaways from my visit.
Oklahoma City takes advantage of every opportunity to create moments. Outdoor dining options, an explosion of paint to brighten underpasses, and the economic development opportunities provided by alleyway activation.
The City has made very purposeful investments in public spaces that provide opportunities for recreation and entertainment. Scissortail Park has a splash pad, jungle gyms, trails, a large pond with boat rentals, as well as multiple restaurants and is a place that attracts residents and tourists alike. Nearby Bricktown – and the centerpiece Canal Walk – is the entertainment district with live music, canal boat tours, restaurants, clubs, and even a mini-golf course. Activities and fun for all ages!
Like many cities, Oklahoma City is made up of neighborhoods with varied histories and unique character. A program of neighborhood branding through banners, pole mounted signs, and signage decorating bridges keeps visitors and residents grounded in a sense of place with a cohesive look and feel, while also providing differentiation in logos. Immediately adjacent to downtown are Deep Deuce, Midtown, Bricktown, and Automobile Alley.
SPEAKING OF SIGNAGE…
The Automobile Alley neighborhood takes its name from the concentration of historic automobile showrooms in the area. Many of these historic buildings retain their iconic neon signs, seen here.
The neighborhood has claimed neon signs as a character defining feature, even offering grants to local businesses for the creation, repair, and maintenance of both historical and new neon signs. The effect is dynamic and creates a sense of activity and vitality in the district.
AND MORE SIGNAGE…
OKC uses other forms of signage for maximum impact. Throughout the central business district you will find historical interpretive signage providing important glimpses into the past. Other signs act as wayfinding on the extensive canal trail, and Downtown OKC branded window clings add to the sense of place and atmosphere.
OKC was a surprising city. Thoughtfully developed with a blending and appreciation of both the old and the new, accessible and attractive, vibrant and thriving. Y’all, there was so much to see and do that I am already planning to go back to experience even more!