(Published During the Public Effort to Save the Midland Valley Bridge)
A thriving future needs collective memory.
Keeping the current Arkansas River Pedestrian Bridge could not only contribute to the excavation of urban memory, but also strengthen citizens’ sense of identity and cohesiveness, thus shaping the spirit and culture of our city. I believe it will provide a new perspective on the interrelationship between people and their physical
I was part of the selection committee that, a few years ago, was formed to discuss a future pedestrian bridge for the city. It was a long process, with intense conversations; we even visited the original bridge. Many of the current questions about the old bridge and the new one were raised by members of the committee. It’s a bizarre surprise to see all those questions and concerns on the table again.
Connecting the West side to the amazing Gathering Place is fantastic. And keeping our history, saving our current bridge, is exciting and necessary. This is how cities and communities remain sites of collective memories, where local character and visions of a common past are linked to the future.
Save the Bridge! The bridge is literally a bridge to our shared past as Tulsans. This bridge is every bit as historic as any man-made structure in the city of Tulsa. The existence of the bridge visually connects us to Tulsa’s earliest days. Moreover, the history of the bridge is intertwined with that of the legendary, if mythic Muscogee-Creek warrior and medicine man, Tuckabatche. In 1904 Tuckabatche granted an easement to the Midland Valley Railroad that allowed the railroad and the bridge to be built on his land which encompassed much of today’s Maple Ridge residential district as well as the world-renown Gathering Place. Tuckabatche’s life story is the history of Tulsa. As such the bridge is literally a bridge to our shared past as Tulsans. Save the Bridge.
For more information from Mr. Colbert about the bridge, click here.
If you have not seen Mr. Wallis’ supportive statement in the Tulsa World, click here. Also see his ABC interview. What follows is some additional material from the full statement made by Mr. Wallis in December 2020. The statement published in the Tulsa World was shortened for length.
When it comes to historic preservation in Tulsa, the reviews are mixed. The city has lost many of its finest architectural treasures and witnessed the destruction of various history sites. In the past, downtown Urban Renewal, new highway construction through established neighborhoods, and indifference in the name of progress have taken a toll.
At one of our sessions, I told some of my fellow committee members that perhaps we should reconsider removing the pedestrian bridge, if only because of its historic significance. I also pointed out that money spent on shoring up and stabilizing the existing bridge would likely be far less than funds needed to build a new one.
Thanks to Mr. Wallis and all supporters of this cause for the betterment of Tulsa!
PETITION SIGNER COMMENTS
“It’s a beautiful part of Tulsa’s past, present and future.”
“The bridge is part of who we were and are now. It works better than the one proposed and it’s cheaper to fix.”
“This bridge has historical connections to Tulsa and many Tulsans have fond memories associated with the bridge. Renovation of the existing bridge can be accomplished at an easily reached lower cost than building from scratch an entire new foundation and bridge.”
“This beautiful bridge has always deeply belonged to all of Tulsa—bikers, runners, walkers, fishermen, kids, folks in wheelchairs, babies in strollers, couples hand in hand, writers with notebooks, buskers with their instruments. People from every neighborhood and walk of life formed a cross-current of humanity, courteous, looking out for each other, feeling the breeze in their faces, sharing a common experience of wind and water, light sparkling off the waves. Its age and stability said, this is who we are—all neighbors and friends we haven’t met. Tulsa is more than the new and shiny. This stone edifice and what it invites has stood the test of time. We all belong here and always have.”
“I love this iconic old bridge, it’s beautiful and can’t be replaced! Please save it!”
“Memories, the design is timeless, it provides shade and other amenities the new bridge does not. It’s a waste of money building new when this beautiful bridge is still repairable and the new design is not close to what people voted for. Re-evaluate.”
“This historic bridge should never have been considered for demolition. Please don’t destroy this grand and beloved piece of Tulsa history.”