Bricktown

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© Oklahoma Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Bricktown is the neighborhood where people come to have fun. It is a collection of beautiful historic brick warehouses, new buildings, and a canal along which people can stroll as they choose which restaurant or bar to visit before catching a movie.

Originally known as the wholesaler district because large regional wholesaler and distributor businesses put down roots here along the Santa Fe Railroad, the area also became a major cotton and agricultural hub. In the 1930s many companies built brick warehouses and factories, designed to last the test of time and stand as a testament to their stature in the local economy.

Gradually, however, the markets began to shift and rail transport lost favor. The large companies in Bricktown began to close shop or move away, and the city began investing in a new part of Oklahoma City, hoping to attract big businesses that required more space than Bricktown could offer. When the interstate was built, it cut the district off from the Cotton Exchange; and, by the 1970s, urban blight had taken a strong foothold.

An interesting cast of characters and a series of fits and starts brought activity and investment back to the area n the 1980s. Inspired by the historic preservation efforts that transformed Denver's Larimer Square, developer Neal Horton began buying property in the warehouse district. Although urban renewal hadn't left much to save, the structures that remained were worth it.

Read the other articles in this series about Oklahoma Main Streets:

Oklahoma City: Bright and Booming in the Heartland
Stockyards City
Plaza District
Artists Alley
Wilburton
Perry

Horton soon teamed up with Bill Peterson, a local attorney who shared his vision for a historic district. They formed the Warehouse Development Company and began picking up property and working out deals with out-of-state owners. Another partner was recruited, plans were drawn up, and the area was branded Bricktown. The momentum was stalled, however, by tough economic breaks in the 1980s. The oil and banking crash of 1982 brought an end to Horton's dream.

Although the Warehouse Development Company eventually went bankrupt, two investors bought two of the company's buildings, which were in the final stages of rehabilitation. Another investor, Jim Brewer, also purchased some of Bricktown's historic buildings and turned one into an attraction – the Bricktown Haunted Warehouse. That did the trick. People began visiting this previously deserted part of town, businesses rented office space, and clubs were recruited to fill a void in the night life. The massive Spaghetti Warehouse opened in 1989 and minor league basketball and hockey teams began to play games there, bringing even bigger crowds.

The MAPS projects, the canal, and the ballpark, helped seal the deal. Bricktown was back.

THE POWER OF MAIN STREET

National Main Streets Conference: Oklahoma City, May 2-5, 2010.

There is only one gathering each year that brings together people who understand exactly what kind of work you do… the kinds of opportunities specifically available to a community like yours… the types of challenges you face and the creative ways to overcome them. It's the National Main Streets Conference.

For three days, you'll experience a whirlwind of great ideas, inspiring speakers, innovative solutions, and thought leaders who are involved in historic preservation-based economic development. Other conferences may explore community revitalization, but only our conference frames it within the structure of the proven Main Street Four-Point Approach® and shows you how to achieve your goals using volunteer teams.

We are pleased this year to showcase the successes and stories of Main Street communities throughout Oklahoma. This article showcases our host city and its revitalization story. Case studies from communities throughout Oklahoma highlight what's been happening in recent years around this great state to get you amped about joining us in Oklahoma City for our upcoming conference.

Free Main Street 101 Training from National Experts!

There's no free lunch anymore, but there is free Main Street 101 training by National Trust Main Street Center (NTMSC) staff. New directors, board members, and volunteers are invited to participate in our day-long, free training on the basics of the Main Street approach on Sunday, May 2, at the 2010 National Main Streets Conference. You don't have to be registered for the conference, but we bet the valuable education and the enthusiastic atmosphere will make you want to stay. If you are a Main Street executive director from a town near Oklahoma City with board members and volunteers who plan to experience the conference vicariously through you, encourage them to come for the day and attend the free Main Street 101 sessions. NTMSC staff will cover each point of the Main Street Approach and share inspiring examples so you'll know how things should be done.  Main Street 101 Training (free): Sunday, May 2, 8:30 a.m.–6:00 p.m