Strolling along the Bricktown Canal for the first time in a decade, Michael Young spent part of his visit back in his hometown taking photos of the Oklahoma Land Run Monument, shops, restaurants and other venues along the waterway.
"Everything has changed — there was nothing but dirt over there (south of Reno Avenue)," Young said. "They didn't have hotels here, they didn't have the theater, the stores — it was just restaurants and bars back then."
Young, who lives in Michigan, said he's hoping to return to Oklahoma City — and Bricktown weighs heavily into his impression of his former hometown.
Chad Huntington has been watching the transformation from the office of his window for the past 11 years. As manager of the Bricktown Water Taxis and co-owner of Oklahoma's Red Dirt Emporium and the Bricktown Red Dirt Marketplace, Huntington has been both a spectator and participant in the entertainment district's transformation.
"We've seen Bricktown become a much more diverse and sophisticated venue," Huntington said. "There have been some incredible changes brought on by elements like Harkins theaters and the location of the Ford Center and the emergence of the tourism and convention business in Oklahoma City."
Huntington believes Bricktown, while thriving as the state's premier urban entertainment district, is still widely misunderstood by locals and visitors.