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Renaming Robinson Avenue, along with other name changes downtown, could sow confusion

The proposed Thunder Drive could make downtown navigation more difficult for newcomers and visitors.
by Steve Lackmeyer Modified: August 13, 2013 at 1:00 pm •  Published: August 12, 2013

The Internet, social media, blogging and video have dramatically changed the job of reporting, but in many ways, I am still an old-fashioned beat reporter in that I spend much of my time out on the streets and visiting businesses, merchants and residents in the urban core.

Rarely does a week pass where downtown visitors don't stop me and ask for directions. Due to the permanent removal of sections of some through streets like California Avenue, Main Street, Harvey Avenue and others during the 1970s Urban Renewal era, it's understandable why those less familiar with downtown might get confused.

The elimination of one-way streets this past year as part of Project 180 has made traveling a bit easier. But another source of confusion, the renaming of some small sections of streets, remains and the temptation continues to expand on the problem rather than make it better.

Oklahoma City has an interesting history in place naming. Consider that its two airports, Will Rogers World Airport and Wiley Post Airport, are named after two men who died in the same plane crash. Until a few years ago, downtown's largest parking garage (Galleria Parking) was named after a failed effort to get a shopping mall built across from the Myriad Gardens.

Walnut Avenue was turned into a major entry point into Deep Deuce and Bricktown a decade ago, upon which the city council decided to rename it Mickey Mantle Drive as it passes through the entertainment district.

Jazz legend Charlie Christian is a major part of Deep Deuce's heritage, so the city council naturally renamed a one-block street in Bricktown in his honor. Stiles Avenue in Deep Deuce was named in honor of Capt. D.F. Stiles, who maintained law and order during our city's earliest days. That street is the only one in Deep Deuce to be renamed, but not after Christian, but rather Russell Perry, the very much alive publisher of the Black Chronicle newspaper.

Let's experience driving as a visitor. We can exit the new Interstate 40 at Shields Boulevard, which then turns into E.K. Gaylord two blocks later. Or we can hop on Joe Carter Avenue (named after an Oklahoma City native who won the 1993 World Series for the Toronto Blue Jays) in Bricktown which then morphs into Russell Perry Avenue.

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by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter and columnist who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's Metropolitan...
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