Otis White continues to provide some of the best links to stories about urban planning of anyone I follow on the Internet. The latest, “America’s Foolish Detour Into Shopping Malls,” laments what could have been if our country had continued with the model with the still incredible Country Club Plaza in Kansas City instead of the Victor Gruen-style malls that plagued our country for a half century.
Oklahoma City had a similar choice once upon a time. MidTown’s Plaza Court consists of retail and offices wrapped around structured parking. It’s not as ambitious as the Country Club Plaza, but it’s certainly a property that people fought to save decades later. Will anyone fight to save Heritage Park Mall in Midwest City, or Crossroads Mall in south Oklahoma City if they eventually are threatened with a wrecking ball?
The article also mentions the General Motors Futurama film of 1939 – which is an intriguing hint at how Gruen won out over J.C. Nichols in designing the shopping centers of the 20th century.
The quotes “residential, commercial and industrial areas have all been separated for greater convenience…” and “Here is an American city re-planned around a highly developed modern traffic system” and “man continually strives to replace the old with the new” are included in part two:
Ahhhh….. I can hear the urbanists among you gagging. The film reminds me of another grand piece of propaganda – the Tale of Two Cities film created by the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority in 1967.
For those who haven’t watched “A Tale of Two Cities,” this is a must-see for anyone hoping to understand our own struggles in balancing suburban and urban development.