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  • Cathy O’Connor

Celebrating a historic milestone on Bricktown Canal

If you lived in Oklahoma City before the Bricktown Canal opened in 1999, you know that Bricktown was a very different place. The first MAPS program built the ballpark and the canal, dramatically changing the look of Bricktown, accelerating the development in that district and bringing crowds looking for entertainment and enjoyment.

Bricktown was created when Army troops, there to maintain order after the 1889 Land Run, withdrew and left an undeveloped area next to the emerging main street. Merchants and wholesalers built the sturdy, red brick buildings, many by the 1930s, as a hub for agriculture, cotton and supplies for the burgeoning town.

Bricktown fell into decline after fires, the Depression and changing industries. Most of the large brick buildings stood vacant for decades. Some were leveled. Several visionaries saw the potential of the area and worked in the 1980s and ‘90s to develop a new type of entertainment hub for Oklahoma City. Neal Horton, Bill Peterson and John Michael Williams were the first group of partners who purchased properties and began restoring them. Jim Tolbert and Don Karchmer followed with restoration of office space, then Craig Brown and Jim Brewer, the man with a talent for creating events that drew a crowd.

Downtown Oklahoma City Partnership and the Bricktown Association celebrated 20 years of the Bricktown Canal on Saturday and drew a very large crowd. The brick-paved streets were full of family-friendly activities, an artist market, pop-up bars, Curbside Chronicle flower and magazine vendors, chalk art and more. Students from ACM@UCO provided live music along the canal.

Read the full article at The Journal Record

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