A concept once considered a "pipe dream” by city leaders became a reality Friday as boat passenger service began on the Oklahoma River.
The Oklahoma River Cruises, which have been offered via charter since the first of three boats arrived in Oklahoma City late last year, opened to regular passenger service between Regatta Park south of Bricktown to Meridian, near the hotel corridor.
Former Mayor Ron Norick, chairman of the city's Riverfront Redevelopment Authority, said the idea of river cruises seemed outlandish in his days as mayor.
"Probably 15 years ago I wouldn't have thought this possible,” Norick said. "I knew we were going to put water in the river, but to be able to actually put cruisers on here and have a transportation link, I think back then would have been considered a pipe dream.”
Part of the problem would have been getting a boat into the river in the first place. Before MAPS passed in 1993, the river was usually a pile of dirt with a trickle of water running through it.
City leaders included the river in the MAPS projects, and dams built along the river as it winds its way through the center of the city ensured a consistent water level allowing boat travel.
Like development in Bricktown, development along the river would require participation from the private sector.