Just east of downtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma there is a fantastic entertainment district called the Bricktown Core Development District. Located in what was once a thriving warehouse district, Bricktown (as it is more commonly called) is home to the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, a 16 screen Harkins movie theater, the Bricktown Canal, and Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill. The corporate headquarters of Sonic Drive-in, as well as numerous other businesses – large and small – make the Bricktown district “the place to be.”
Bricktown OKC Boundaries
The Bricktown Urban Design Committee is behind every modification within the Bricktown district. The Committee’s goal is to maintain the ‘warehouse district’ feel, while allowing both retail and commercial growth. The boundaries of this growing district are: the railroad right-of-way between NE 1st and Main, the Centennial Expressway, Reno Avenue, and BNSF Railway. The Oklahoma River is just south of the Brickyard District.
Bricktown OKC History
From the late 19th century to the early 20th century, four different railroad companies operated just east of the Santa Fe tracks – in an area that is now part of Bricktown. From 1898 until 1903, all the brick buildings being built were one or two story buildings. Between 1903 and 1911, larger brick buildings were built around, and alongside, the smaller buildings. The years between 1911 and 1930 saw the tallest brick buildings rise towards the sky. Homes for the workers were built close to the warehouses and rail yards.
The first local chapter of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) was located in Bricktown. 228 E. First was once the home of the Black Dispatch, the first newspaper for blacks. This Oklahoma City newspaper often reported about the constant struggle to stop the practice of racially segregated housing within the city.
Fall From Glory
The start of the Great Depression was also the start of the downfall of this once thriving freight and warehouse district. As businesses folded and new highways were built leading to newer areas, people moved to find jobs and nicer homes. The end of World War II, and the progress of highway construction across the United States, soon saw railroads restructuring. More and more freight began being shipped on trucks instead of trains. Sadly, by 1980 Bricktown was nothing more than a sad shell, filled with nothing but abandoned brick buildings.
Rise To Fame
In the 1990s, Oklahoma City voted to give tax incentives to any business that relocated to the Bricktown district. After this idea failed to produce enough tenants, mayor Ron Norick decided what Oklahoma City needed was a vibrant downtown. There was simply not much to do in downtown Oklahoma City, nothing to attract or keep people from leaving the area. Mayor Norick, Ray Ackerman (the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber President), and their staff members got together and developed the Metropolitan Area Projects plan to revitalize the warehouse district. The first projects completed were the Bricktown ballpark, which opened in 1998, and a beautiful tree-lined canal that opened in July of 1999. This mile-long canal has water taxis that stop at the many shops, restaurants, and nightclubs that now call Bricktown ‘home.’
Bricktown is fast becoming known for the wonderful murals and sculptures found throughout the area. There is even a monument dedicated to the Oklahoma Land Run. Summer in Bricktown is a great time for art lovers: the annual Bricktown Art Festival is held every year in the middle of July. Artists from around the globe come to see, buy, and share their own works.
Bricktown has been reborn, and it keeps on growing and improving. Where once a virtual ghost town stood, life has returned. The Metropolitan Area Projects team has seen their visions turned into reality.
Bricktown OKC Resources:
Ray Roman is the Broker-Owner of Roman Realty an independent real estate brokerage serving Central Oklahoma. With over 20 years experience in the real estate industry, Ray has the skills, and knowledge to help you buy, sell, or invest in land.