Skid Row

Author: Sammy Andrews

In “Skid Row,” Andrews looks at Downtown Muskogee through the lens of Jane Jacobs. Bringing in Jacobs’ themes of mixed-use, walkability, and mixed age building, Andrews combines the academic template with personal experience. By examining this district, Andrews not only shows the deterioration of the area, but also analyzes the current revitalization projects underway to remedy the situation. – Editor: Lindsey Trout

In case you’re unfamiliar with the title reference, go watch the beginning (or all) of Little Shop of Horrors. The outlandish musical starts with addressing the urban skid row where the show takes place, accusing the entire town of filth and zero success. Lines such as “downtown, where your life’s a joke,” and “where the food is slop,” paint an unappealing yet vivid picture of a worn down, falling apart downtown. 


Despite what some currently residing residents might say, perhaps many locals — or even visitors — would perceive Downtown Muskogee as the skid row of the town. Building facades differ greatly from one another, but similarly wear the same crackling and corroding on their faces. Old bumpy roads direct you (or lack thereof) to the next falling down building that once flourished with purpose. Almost as if Jacob’s list was conspired exactly for it, Downtown houses mixed-use buildings, oddly shaped and intermingled with random new facades. Although the blocks seem to connect in shape and size, the thought of walking from once place to another seems to be foreign to this land, as there are no crosswalks or pedestrian signs. It’s as if traveling by vehicle is the only option…downtown? While most of the downtown buildings are homes to local businesses, surprisingly, the space becomes even more dead after five pm, once everyone zooms away.


The deserted skid row needed a facelift, and that’s exactly what it’s finally getting. The University of Oklahoma and Tulsa Urban Design have teamed up to revitalize and repurpose Downtown Muskogee to what it once was. Since last October, analyzations and site planning of the location has already brought some much needed rejuvenation to the downtown area. By allowing residents to express their desires for downtown, IQC members have allowed the citizens to take ownership of the revitalization and are facilitating change. New signs introducing the district areas have gone up on overpasses and corners. An established district connecting the performing arts area and highlights of downtown have directed a path to the now thriving shops and lunch cafes. The history and spirit of Downtown is becoming attractive once again, creating a new atmosphere for itself with increasing activities, accessible green space, repurposed historic buildings, and a soon-to-be revitalized mall.


Iqc, Ou. “Steering Committee Minutes, Nov 2.” The Institute for Quality Communities, November 4, 2016. /2016/11/04/committeenov2/.


“Muskogee Calls On Expert In ‘Flipping’ Historic Districts To Re- – – Tulsa, OK – News, Weather, Video and Sports – |.” Accessed February 28, 2017.

Studio, OU Urban Design. “A Downtown That Benefits the People.” The Institute for Quality Communities, October 12, 2016. /2016/10/12/a-downtown-that-benefits-the-people/.

Studio, OU Urban Design. “The Architecture of Downtown Muskogee.” The Institute for Quality Communities, November 17, 2016. /2016/11/17/the-architecture-of-downtown-muskogee/.


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