When I came to Oklahoma City in the early 1980s, I’d heard about two metro-area communities: Nichols Hills and Edmond. One was too affluent, and the other didn’t appeal to me either.
I decided on south Oklahoma City, mostly because of convenience. Oklahoma City Community College was there, and I needed to be within walking distance since I did not have a car. If familiarity breeds contentment, maybe that’s why 40 years later I’m still living in south OKC.
Friends have tried to lure me to other parts of the city on the notion that I'm in the wrong part of town. “Too many vehicles jacked up with brick blocks.” “There’s a gang problem.” And sentences that often included “those people.” Really? I’ve never lived in any neighborhood that fits those labels, yet the sentiments have prevailed over the years. I’ve come to realize that too many long-time residents of Oklahoma City are also some of the worst ambassadors for this city. How many of those same detractors have ventured south of Interstate 40, except maybe to travel on Interstate 35 on their way to Dallas or a football game at the University of Oklahoma.
I’ve lived in three different parts of south OKC. What’s kept me on this side of town are the people. That Oklahoma Standard you hear so much about is not exclusive to any part of town. It shows up every day and everywhere within the city’s 621 square miles. In my neighborhood, people know who lives next door, up and down the street and the folks on the other side of the fence one street over. They say hello, share their tornado shelter and help you find the right repellent to keep animals away from your flower bed. My neighbors are wonderful.
South OKC brings the spice to the city. The area is multicultural, with ethnicities from all over the world. The Hispanic community in the Capitol Hill area may be trending more than other parts of the south side, but farther south is a melting pot that includes Asian, African and East Indian families and businesses. They live in neighborhoods with affordable homes or million-dollar houses in affluent communities like Rivendell.
“It's a small community feel in a big city,” said southside developer PB Odom III. “There is no ‘keep up with the Joneses.’ In the 73170 ZIP code, that’s where the residential growth is; it’s the second-highest per capita median income in the state. There are more wealthy people living in those neighborhoods than in many other affluent neighborhoods in the city.”
This week, we publish a package of stories focusing on the four major parts of Oklahoma City, plus the downtown area. The stories attempt to familiarize homebuyers looking to move to Oklahoma City, or to a different part of the city, with what makes each area special — the neighborhoods, community, the foods, the entertainment, the schools and all the things in between to engage one's interest. The stories are useful tools for prospective buyers but also a celebration of life in Oklahoma City.
The city's significant growth in the last 40 years is beginning to touch even long-abandoned areas. If you’re not familiar with some of these areas, now is a good time to acquaint yourself with what’s across town. Visit the Osteology Museum on the southeast side, hang out at Kindred Spirits or try the charcoal crust at Eastside Pizza House; attend a concert at the 1,200-seat performing arts center at OCCC or shop for delectable delights at Le Monde Bakery in the Vietnamese market at SW 104 and Pennsylvania Avenue. I’m an island girl, so flavor matters, and that pulls me east to Carican Flavors to satisfy my cravings or west toward Bethany where Caribbean Fusion features authentic cuisine in a casual setting.
After reading these stories, tell us about your experiences in the different parts of the city. What experiences stand out from your time in one of the OKC 'burbs? You can send your comments to email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: OKC real estate: What to know about each unique neighborhood