Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Most Lifeless Intersection

Google Streetview

I overheard someone say once that the S. 51st Street and Memorial Drive intersection is "the most lifeless intersection in Tulsa."

I have thought about that comment a lot. At times, I've been convinced the person was correct. Two strip-style shopping centers riddled with national chains, a Shell station, not anyplace where I'd be enticed to dine, two lanes going in all directions, pedestrian lights about 30 seconds long, and a cemetery comprising the entire southeast corner.

It doesn't get more lifeless than a cemetery, you know?

Then I began to think of Tulsa in a new way. I've wandered the city by foot, car and mind, thinking of T-Town in terms of its intersections. Some are as happenin' as they come - 31st and Peoria, 1st and Archer, 71st and Memorial (like it or not, it's there). Others...well, others - 51st and Mingo, 9th and Boston - make me sad.

I also began to think of what exactly makes an intersection hip, or what sends it straight to lifeless-ville. Where's the tipping point, exactly? Does it happen when a chain, often too large in scale and discouraging of pedestrian activity, moves in on one of the corners? Does a cool independent restaurant or retailer have the capability of singlehandedly transforming a "lifeless" intersection into a hotspot (I think Elliot Nelson has answered this question with a resounding "yes," but think for yourself)? If so, what are the other parts of the formula to creating a hip hub of an intersection?

What would lists of lifeless and happenin' Tulsa intersections look like?

Feel free to weigh in on this in the comments section. If nothing else, give it some thought.


Jeff Shaw said...

The banks have taken over the intersections in south Tulsa. Other than providing financial services, they serve no purpose. You can't go there every day, or once a week for most people. I believe there is 1 bank branch for every 10,000 people in Tulsa (I'll get back to you on this stat.). Intersections with this type of dead space really suck.

Mos Jef said...

Go one mile north. 41st and Memorial has a DUI School, a Latino club that has had a string of murders, The Rodeo, and 4 consecutive car dealerships. I couldn't imagine a worse intersection.

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