Some months ago, I made a passing Prior post reference to the destruction of downtown Oklahoma City at the hands of architect I.M. Pei. Now Pei's model of his plans has been resurrected and the revisionist historians have taken over. Did you know that it wasn't Pei's intention to raze many of the fine old buildings that were destroyed to make way for his vision? Nope. Well, okay, maybe not all of those buildings. Just that one and that one and that one over there. Beautiful buildings turned to rubble and dust to be replaced by some of the most painful eyesores you can imagine. So don't blame him. Blame urban renewal. And greedy land developers, according to some paranoid commenters at the site. You know, the usual suspects.
What happened to Oklahoma City happened to many large cities across the United States. Residents fled to the suburbs not because they were duped by developers to leave downtown but because it was preferable to live in the suburbs. And we've never returned. Sure, I admire some of the efforts we're now making to attract residents back downtown but I think, in the long run, it's folly. We're not Manhattan. Never have been. Never will be.
I can't be bothered to plow through the site and learn where Pei is today and what he thinks about how Oklahoma City implemented, or didn't implement his plan. All I know is it seems he high-tailed it out of here out of here after milking us yokels for his fee and was never heard from again. Maybe I'm being unfair. Maybe Pei weeps long into the night because his dreams of a Utopian Oklahoma City never came to fruition. But the history of Oklahoma City and its grand buildings speaks for themselves. This exhibit is should serve as a reminder to those who think the new plans that have recently received approval will somehow be different.