Swan Lake, Yorktown (Tulsa) Watchdogs Defend Historic Neighborhoods
The neighborhoods of Maple Ridge, Swan Lake, Yorktown and Central Park in Tulsa have
used smart-growth concepts to preserve and protect historic, pre-World War II houses and
create livable, walkable communities.
These neighborhoods offer a mixture of rental apartments, historic mansions and
middle-income bungalows. Residents can walk, bike or take the bus a short distance to
work. Bike lanes are well integrated with the rest of the city's bike trails, and streets
are designed with appropriate lighting, crosswalks and trees for those on foot.
Downtown Flowers: Tulsa's farmers' market helps keep
its central shopping area healthy.
These neighborhoods boast an amazing array of open spaces as well. Residents can
watch migrating waterfowl, have a picnic at Swan Lake -- one of the two well-maintained
urban parks in the neighborhood -- or walk through shady avenues of 100-year-old trees to
the Saturday farmers' market. If they're looking for culture, museums, opera, ballet and
the symphony are all just a few minutes away.
What makes this all possible is the phenomenal level of citizen involvement. Active
"watchdog" groups in each neighborhood keep an eye out for the quality of life
in the area. When residents get involved in their communities, smarter growth and better
planning is almost always the result.
Photo by Judy Ried
Street (Tulsa) Mega-Malls Harm Downtown, Open Space
Tulsa seems to be suffering from a split personality disorder. On one
hand, the city has well-planned, historic neighborhoods that epitomize smart growth. On
the other hand, the South 71st Street corridor reflects all the classic problems of
suburban sprawl. The question: Which Tulsa will win out?
The South 71st Street corridor is superstore heaven. Acres upon acres of land were
paved over to make way for adjacent mega-plexes of chain stores. Over time, an excess of
development has forced some businesses to close, leaving vacant parking lots and abandoned
Unfortunately, this pattern of sprawl shows no sign of letting up. More and more
developments are being built to the east, with sprawling development now also threatening
housing and farm communities to the north and south.
Those who want to shop at one of these mega-malls have a tough time getting there.
Although the area is served by a city bus, most people drive, causing tremendous traffic
jams. Even residents of the housing complex immediately adjacent to the western end of the
corridor find it hard to get around due to a tall retaining wall that separates their
homes from the shops.