I picked up the Oklahoma City
streetcar from the stop across from my hotel.
There are two routes in the city – one that runs around the downtown
area and another shorter loop that goes from the convention center development
area back to Bricktown. The car I got
was on the Bricktown Loop and, since I wanted to do the full run, I hopped off
at the next stop and waited for the next car.
I got on board along with a guy that
had come to check it out despite his skepticism. He ended up meeting a few people he knew and
seemed pretty impressed by the whole thing.
The vehicles have a battery system on board which allows them to run for
periods without overhead wires. This is
particularly helpful where the line runs under the main railroad. The bridges there are too low to allow for
overhead wires so the system involves periods on battery and periods on wire
when the batteries can be recharged,
Lots of people were out making use of the
free introductory period. Given that it
was a Friday, this was a good indication.
Hopefully the system will prove to be a success. It is part of a number of measures that the
city is implementing to improve the live ability of the area. I wish them well.
I used to make regular trips to
Oklahoma City for a streetcar project I was working on. I ended up having to pick up another project
which meant I dropped the streetcar project when the vehicle contract had been
approved and signed and my colleague took on the delivery phase. However, I promised I would be back for the
grand opening. Mid December was the time
when the system was opened up.
Fortunately, I was already within
three hours of OKC for another project so I drove up for the celebrations. The project team had a dinner the night
before which was a great chance to get back together with some old faces. The opening was on the following
morning. We had an early photo session
with project team members at 7:30 on a chilly Friday. The main opening ceremony started at
10:00. It was still pretty cold but
plenty of people had shown up for the evening.
Speeches from those involved and then it was time for the first rides.
I skipped the initial runs and instead
went to have a look at the maintenance facility that had been constructed as
part of the project. It was a nice job
that had been put together by all involved.
After checking it all out, I parted ways with my old colleagues. Before heading home, it was time to ride the
full route. That will be another post.
It’s not often that you see a Boeing 727 in service any more. There was a time when FedEx were still using them in substantial numbers. Now you are most likely to see a FedEx machine parked up since most airports seem to have acquired one of them somehow! Finding one actually in use is a far less common occurrence. However, they are still out there and every once in a while, you will get lucky.
I was in Oklahoma City heading home after some meetings when I glanced out of the window and saw a 727 taxiing past the terminal. It caught me out and it took a moment to get a camera out by which time it was a bit further away than was ideal but I did manage to grab a couple of shots. I was hoping that it was taxiing for departure so I would have a second opportunity as it took off but I guess it had just arrived and was heading to the ramp to park. It had text on the side suggesting it was for transporting horses. I had previously seen a similar jet at Van Nuys a few years ago. This time I only got some rough ground shots but any active 727 is worth noting these days.
Energy is big business in Oklahoma. Oil and natural gas are a large part of the economy and, judging by the size of its downtown location, Devon is a big player in the market. Until I went there, I had not heard of the company. However, once you are there, you can hardly miss their tower which dominates the skyline. It is a pretty simple structure in principle but there are a few features that catch the eye. The gentle curve in towards the top is interesting and the texture on the windows had me looking at various ways to shoot it.
The overall shape did make me think of something less than flattering though. I did not read the Lord of the Rings books as a youngster (or since) but I have seen the movies. The shape of the building made me think of the eye of Sauron atop the tower in the films. You may think I am delusional for seeing this but that was how it struck me. I am not suggesting Devon is an evil corporation – it’s just the building reminded me of a film.
As the sun went down, I had varying options with the light on the tower so tried shooting from various angles and played with the exposure to get the effect I was after. I also got a few shots of it after dark when I was walking back from dinner. I’m not sure whether I like the building or not but it has certainly got my attention.
In the heart of downtown Oklahoma City is an oasis from the normal bustle of a city in the form of a botanic garden. This is not something on the scale of some of the other botanic gardens I have visited over the years. It is more of a park that has been nicely landscaped. However, it is known as the Myriad Botanic Gardens and it has a glasshouse at its center. This is a cylindrical structure that spans a pond.
I got to the gardens at the end of the day and with limited time before it closed, I didn’t bother to shell out the entrance fee (which did seem a bit steep). Instead, I was more intent on getting some shots as the sun started to set. I wasn’t alone in this idea. There were a few photographers like me wandering around looking for shots and a considerable number that were there professionally shooting individuals and family groups against the various backgrounds the garden had to offer.
Aside from the cylindrical glass structure, there were water features, sculptures, a stage in the round and an open space with a stage at the end for free concerts, one of which was setting up while I was there. A reggae band were getting ready and, as I strolled around, they started their performance so I had a nice bit of background music while I enjoyed the evening which had cooled nicely to the high 90s from the earlier temperatures in the 100s!
While the downtown area of Oklahoma City has not struck me as one that has a lot of people living in it, there was a good sized crowd at the concert as well as those walking around the gardens. It seems to be a popular spot and, being within a couple of blocks of my hotel, it was a pleasant change from the usual hotel environment.
As part of the regeneration program that is underway in Oklahoma City, an area known as Bricktown is becoming a focus of development. It is a short walk from the heart of downtown. What was there before I don’t know but I imagine bricks had something to do with it. There are a lot of restaurants, bars and hotels in the area with a canal structure running through them. It is also the home of the minor league baseball stadium.
I stopped off for dinner one night after wandering around the city a bit. After my meal, I was walking back to the hotel and grabbed a few shots of the area. It was pretty dark and I had the ISO ramped way up but you can get a bit of a feel for the area. You can also see the lights of the baseball stadium in the background. I guess that they had a game that night. There are also horse drawn carriages plying their trade on the streets. This was a familiar sight when we lived in Chicago. They have gone to town on the lighting of these examples though. I guess it helps get some attention.
In previous posts about the federal building memorial in Oklahoma City, I talked about how it is lit at night and that I wanted to go back. This I have now managed to do. I showed up around sunset and walked around the whole memorial. I was traveling light so no tripod, only a GorillaPod. This worked fine for most things. I was interested to discover text on the end of the memorial which lit up at night. I had thought it was a blank wall previously.
The subtle lighting across the memorial was very nice. As the sky color faded, I got a bunch of shots, some with quite long exposures which helped to blur out the other visitors of which there were plenty. The gentleness of the scene was what I wanted to convey since it was even more apparent in the dark than during the day, even though it is a calm place then too. That the place feels so peaceful while remembering such a violent event is a tribute to those who created it and maintain it.
Work recently took me to Oklahoma City. I had been there on another work visit a few years ago and that time I visited the site of the federal building bombing. It was a moving place and this time I wanted to go back and take my camera with me. At the end of a day of meetings, I headed across.
The location is slightly odd in that it is in the heart of the city and has a steady stream of visitors but it doesn’t feel busy. I parked on the street across from the entrance and wandered around freely rarely crossing paths with others. There was even a school group there but they didn’t seem intrusive. The memorial has a few key elements.
The footprint of the building is now a grassed area. Surrounded on three side by walls, part of which are the only remaining sections of the original building, the grass is filled with chairs. These chairs are made from bronze and glass and each represents a victim of the bombing. They are laid out in rows based on the floor that the victim was on at the time of the attack. There were many children killed as there was a daycare facility in the building and the chairs for the children are smaller. This has a very poignant effect. The front of each chair has the details of each victim. Apparently, at night the chairs are illuminated from within and I may have to go back when I am next there to see this.
The street that used to run alongside the building and on which the bomb was placed has been closed. It has been leveled and a rectangular pond now is there. At each end are metal arches with two times on them. 9:01 represents the city before the bomb and 9:03 is the city after the bomb.
Across the water from the chairs are a couple of other features. One is a tree. Despite the damage inflicted on everything in the area, this tree survived and became a symbol of the city’s survival. Also, there is a building that previously held a newspaper but is now the museum associated with the memorial. It shows signs of damage sustained and there is graffiti from some of the original rescue workers.
Like so many well thought out memorials, this one is very simple yet very effective. More recent events have led many to forget just how terrible an event this was. It was an example of just how much someone could take their personal point of view to an extreme at the expense of so many innocent people. Quite relevant when hearing some of the things people say these days. If you look at the fence with keepsakes and photos attached to it, it becomes a lot more apparent just how personal an attack like this is to those involved and a reminder why there is no justification for anything like it.