The convention Leive and I attended in Oklahoma City ended on Saturday, March 21, but some members of our group weren’t ready to start home until after lunch time on March 22, so we had a few free hours that Sunday morning. Our bus driver was kind enough to give us a quick tour of the city while we were waiting for everybody else. Here are the pictures I took from that bit of sightseeing.
Directly east of the convention center is a neighborhood called Bricktown. Mostly brick buildings, as you might guess from the name, it is an entertainment district dominated by a baseball park. One of the highways (Interstate 35?) separates Bricktown from the rest of the city.
Many of the buildings bordering Bricktown have murals showcasing Oklahoma’s heritage. They were painted in 2007, as part of the state’s centennial celebrations.
Sonic, the chain of drive-in hamburger restaurants, has its headquarters in Bricktown. Definitely more impressive than the Fazoli’s headquarters back home, which is in a one-story office building.
West of the convention center is Myriad Botanical Gardens, the largest garden in the city. I was able to stroll through there and take a few pictures. The bushes with orange-red flowers are pomegranates; I recognized them because I tried growing one in Florida, back in the 1980s.
There is a pond running through the garden (full of mallards and Canada geese), with two covered bridges running over it. The first one doesn’t appear to have a name. The second one, however, is called the Crystal Bridge, and is a full-fledged greenhouse. Unfortunately I couldn’t go into the bridge/greenhouse, because it and the gift shops weren’t open on Sunday morning. Between the bridges was a stage in the round, which reminded me of the Lake Eola bandshell in Orlando.
The giant elephant ear/taro/coleus behind the white daffodils isn’t real, it’s a metal statue.
On the north side of the garden is some kind of performing arts center. I guess the building itself is supposed to be a work of modern art, because it looked like a jumble of boxes, connected by pipes.
Next, we went to the site where the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing took place. Since what remained of the Murrah building was eventually imploded, a memorial now marks the site. Two walls of the building have been replaced by giant keyholes, one marked “9:01” and the other marked “9:03,” because the blast happened at 9:02 AM.
Before you get to the memorial itself, you go past this statue, which was donated by a local Catholic church. Appropriately, the Bible verse “And Jesus wept” is carved on the statue’s base.
The first part of the memorial you will reach is this fence, covered with flowers, toys, shirts, etc., that visitors leave to remember the 168 who died here on that fateful day. I think people still come by to place more offerings on the fence, because most of them don’t look very old.
The building next to the Murrah Building has been converted into a museum. As you can see in the second picture, the top of it took some damage from the blast. And again, because it was Sunday morning, it wasn’t open to the public, so we paid our respects outside.
Between the two keyhole-walls is a shallow reflecting pool, where the building used to be.
On the south side of the pool (right from my point of view), is the Field of Empty Chairs, where 168 brass chairs were set up, one for each victim.
A tree next to the building barely survived the blast. I guess that is why it still leans away from the pool. Now a wall surrounds it, and on the wall are words of thanks from the people of Oklahoma City, to all the rescue workers who came to help in their hour of need.
At the museum entrance was this wall, which a bunch of kids painted as their own tribute.
I saw more than one of these unusual stone benches. I’d like to know if they are real rocks, petrified wood, or a painted synthetic material like concrete.
As we left the site, we passed the other keyhole-wall, which had one more tribute on it.
I have noticed that some cities like to decorate street corners with animal statues, each one having a color combination not found in nature. In Orlando it was gecko statues, a few years back; in Lakeland, FL it was swans; in Lexington it is horses. For Oklahoma I am guessing it’s buffalo, because here is a purple and white one.
Our bus had an Internet connection, via satellite, so here Leive is trying it out.
Well, we had a great trip. If everyone is on board, it’s time to head homeward!