All photos ©Alison Zarrow 2005-2007. Please see fine print.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Do Downtowns Matter?

Do Downtowns Matter? A Case Study of Dispersing "Civic Fauna" in Tulsa, Oklahoma

For the past year I have been working on my senior sociology honors thesis at Stanford. I am am interested in what happened to fraternal, civic, business and professional organizations in Tulsa over the period 1950-2000. I used GIS (computer mapping) to map the number and location of these groups every decade.

It turns out that as downtown Tulsa declined, what had once been a compact home for civic organizations (over fifty per square mile in 1950) also disappeared. The organizations dispersed steadily across the city towards the south and east, exponentially declining in geographic density (down to about one per square mile by 2000). I believe that this loss of "civic density" necessarily led to declining civic health because when groups are far apart, there are fewer opportunities for people from different walks of life to interact informally.

If you have further interest, I have set up a website for my thesis project at where I will continue to post.

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visitors to Abandoned Tulsa