Midwest City continues its work revitalizing the Original Mile
Memorials are a great way for people to remember what once was.
They are signposts—sometimes literally—pointing back to a noteworthy historical moment or a person or group of people who made an impact. In Midwest City, the Original Mile has garnered attention in recent years. Located near Air Depot Boulevard, Midwest Boulevard, SE 15 and SE 29, the Original Mile was initially intended to assist those newly stationed at Tinker Air Force Base in the 1940s. Times have changed a bit since the 40s. With the city’s growth comes benefits and growing pains tangled together, causing many city officials to think outside of the box when it comes to this one-square mile of land.
When the Mile was first established in the 40s, Midwest City was much smaller and less populated. In an original description of the Mile, the architects hoped the patch of homes would slow traffic. Additionally, the homes were labeled as “America’s Model Homes,” and harkened back to a simpler time with aluminum carports and narrow driveways. Now, Town Center is filled with restaurants and stores and many of the homes have lost the sparkle they had in the 40s and 50s. Many city officials understand that with Midwest City’s population boom and the changing housing market, adjustments to this historic district are inevitable.
“This exciting project gives Midwest City a chance to preserve our history by re-imagining a neighborhood, adding modern features and creating something new for our future,” Julie Shannon, Comprehensive Planner for the City of Midwest City, said.
Indeed, since the launch of the Revitalization Plan in 2011 there have been many efforts made, such as replacing the old water tower, constructing Town Center and building a new elementary school. There have also been eight monuments installed in islands across the Original Mile in order to commemorate the town’s heritage. These successes only scratch the surface of what the committee eventually hopes to accomplish. They to continue their pursuit of growth and development, while adhering to the heritage that makes Midwest City unique. Some of their specific future goals are:
- Provide a variety of housing types that appeal to multiple styles
- Increase walkability throughout the community
- Adhere to the traditional neighborhood concept while revitalizing certain aspects of the neighborhoods
- Increase the connectivity of the Original Mile with Town Center Plaza, adjacent neighborhoods and the community through pedestrian networks
- Continue the commercial growth within the community through mixed use development
- Upgrade the current housing; introduce infill housing that meets more modern aesthetic standards and increases energy efficiency while remaining competitive in the housing market
The committee has a longer list of goals that can be found on the city’s website under Community Development. In an excerpt from the Original Mission Statement for the Revitalization Plan, the committee discussed their overall dreams for this new take on the old mile.
“Home ownership will increase; functional and varied housing choices will be readily available; and pedestrian oriented neighborhoods that offer parks, improved streetscapes and green space will attract residents of all ages.”
Creating a better community for future generations is a worthy goal. It is a goal that the local community hopes to build on as the surrounding cities expand. In the same vein, remembering the past is crucial—it provides necessary insight and honors those that have passed. With the Original Mile revitalization, one small city is doing something quite big, indeed.