Mother Road: Students reimagine 11th Street
Posted: Tuesday April 14, 2015 12:00 am
Some University of Oklahoma students have mapped out a vision of how to redevelop 11th Street, drawing on the magical history of Route 66.
Route 66 was the iconic centerpiece of the nation’s first highway system. Celebrated in song and drama, the road stretched from Chicago to southern California. It was the Mother Road, the Main Street of America.
Much of Route 66 is gone now, but some of the best remaining parts are in Oklahoma. The road went through the heart of Tulsa, including the stretch of 11th Street.
Developing the Route 66 potential for 11th Street was the challenge given to OU architecture and graduate landscape architecture students for the “Route 66: String of Pearls” exhibit last week.
Teams of students took 11th Street intersections between Peoria and Yale avenues and reimagined them in neon hues and Roaring ’20s flashbacks.
Route 66 still draws tourists from around the world to Oklahoma, and private development is driving Tulsa to look for ways to take advantage of that. The exhibit is one of several efforts led by former state Rep. Russ Roach and private investors to help 11th Street grow and prosper, and he deserves public recognition for his efforts.
The OU students’ efforts are not just an academic exercise. Students from the same program did a similar study for Southwest Boulevard some years back, and the effort has led to several interesting projects along that stretch of road today.
It’s too bad that the designs are not in a public place for review. OU officials say they’re looking for an opportunity to do that, and we encourage that effort. These ideas need a chance to catch hold in the community.
We thank the OU students for their creativity and their public-spirited engagement. This sort of master planning for redeveloping the Route 66 potential would have cost tens of thousands of dollars from a consultant. We look forward to seeing those ideas blossom in the future.