Sunday, August 31, 2008

Perspective on OKC's sprawl

This is a ranking of US cities that added the most sprawl inbetween 1970 and 1990. I'll copy the top cities and how many square miles of sprawl that they added during said period.

1. Atlanta, GA 701.7
2. Houston, TX 638.7
3. New York City-N.E. New Jersey 541.3
4. Washington, DC-MD-VA 450.1
5. Philadelphia, PA 412.4
6. Los Angeles, CA 393.8
7. Dallas-Fort Worth, TX 372.4
8. Tampa-St.Petersburg-Clearwater, FL 358.7
9. Phoenix, AZ 353.6
10. Minneapolis-Saint Paul, MN 341.6
11. San Diego, CA 309.5
12. Oklahoma City, OK 307.7
13. Chicago, IL - N.W. Indiana 307.3
14. Baltimore, MD 282.9
15. Kansas City, MO-KS 268.6
16. Saint Louis, MO-IL 267.6
17. Orlando, FL 262.9
18. Detroit, MI 247.4
19. Boston, MA 226.8
20. Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News, VA 221.4
21. San Antonio, TX 215.1
22. San Francisco-Oakland, CA 193.1
23. Austin, TX 187.4
24. Pittsburgh, PA 181.7
25. Cincinnati, OH-KY 176.6

While I'm not shocked at all that OKC is in the Top 15, I am shocked that Philly added as much sprawl as DC and LA, which both have very sprawly metros. What's strange however is that OKC added less than 300,000 people in those 20 years according to statistics. By the way, Tulsa comes in at #41 with about 125 new square miles of sprawl.

As if explanation is necessary, I think OKC is somewhat unique in that the city isn't one that developed around a core or even into one area. There are essentially several different autonomous parts of OKC. For instance, the northside and southside have pretty separate identities and don't interact that much. Plus they've very separated by the blight all along I-40 with the clear exception of booming downtown.

OKC's development more or less reflects where the jobs are. You have a chunk of old city around downtown, a big chunk of suburbia up by the Northwest Expressway, Edmond, a chunk of the metro down by Tinker and WRWA, and then Norman. Whereas you have Tulsa, which is a much more contiguously developed metro area, similar size, and much much further down the list (or I should say, more reasonably located).

P.S. This isn't for bragging rights. This is a clear problem. If OKC, population 1.3 million is about as sprawled as Dallas-Fort Worth, population 7 million.. then Houston, we have a problem. And if you don't believe OKC has a sprawl problem, drive from South Norman up to North Edmond, or from Yukon to Choctaw, and rethink that assumption.

1 comment:

skye said...

Okc does have a very chopped up feel to it because of its vast sprawl. I still haven't found a reasonable answer to why it was allowed to get so large land wise.
Seattle has a slightly larger population and is only 88 sq. miles.