Blame it all on my roots, but I'm especially sensitive to the words used to describe places.
I grew up on a farm east of Muldrow, a real farm, not a suburban or exurban “acreage.”
Muldrow was a small town of about 1,500 then, and is a small town of about 3,400 now. Do not call it a “village,” a “hamlet” or any other such faux quaint thing. It's a small town, although there are lots smaller.
When former Oklahoma State Cowboy star and NBA player Bryant “Big Country” Reeves was told he was going to “the city” for a basketball camp or something, he thought they meant Sallisaw, not Oklahoma City — and I totally understood.
So, when I look at the 11,250,000-cubic-foot Devon Tower, I think, Lordy, you could stack a LOT of hay in that, and I'll bet Bryant Reeves does, too! (That's 9-foot-tall ceilings times 50 floors of about 25,000 square feet each — it's a guesstimate, y'all.)
And my brain snaps — because to me, anything over 10 stories is a skyscraper.
Almost 30 years ago or so in college, when I heard someone on KSPI radio in Stillwater refer to the “Stillwater metropolitan area,” I scoffed off a column for The Daily O'Collegian makin' fun of the idea that a prairie college town, with a “skyline” defined by a grain elevator, the 12-story Kerr-Drummond Hall and (late) Willham Hall, twin dorms that came down in 2005, could be a “metropolitan area.” The radio guy replied that he meant it tongue-in-cheek. Maybe.
Then, 20 years ago when I was working at another paper in a pretty good sized-city, about 100,000 population, a business reporter who apparently had been to an urban planning conference or two started referring to a state highway that came through town, and had some businesses on it, as the “Such-and-Such Highway corridor.”
Newsroom discretion being the better part of journalism valor, I snickered but kept it to myself. I didn't think the city was big enough, or that the highway had enough of a distinct commercial dynamic, to be a “corridor.” It was the “Stillwater metropolitan area” all over again.
Strictly speaking, a corridor is any stretch of land, or road, that connects one place to another. But in certain contexts, “corridor” has a certain ring to it, and in certain places, it fits.
Oklahoma City has the Memorial Road corridor and the Northwest Expressway corridor. There are two or three Interstate 35 corridors — in north Oklahoma City-Edmond, in south Oklahoma City-Moore, and Moore-Norman. Broadway Avenue in Edmond is a corridor. And there are others in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area.
And I-240 in south Oklahoma City, between I-44 and I-35, is corridor-ish. Most of my experience driving I-240 was years ago zipping through on my way back and forth between northwest Texas and eastern Oklahoma. I don't think I stopped for anything in 10 years of passing through several times a year. And there's not much to get me there now.
To me, I-240 is more like that state highway in that Texas city: it's a road, and there are some businesses on it. But it has no distinct commercial dynamic.
So, my hat's off to everyone working to erase the “ish” from the I-240 corridor. That, in a nutshell, is what Envision 240, updated today in a story in The Oklahoman and NewsOK.com, is trying to accomplish.