Tuesday, March 30, 2010
The loss of American social capital-connectivity among individuals thought to be critical for the health of a community- is believed by many to be a byproduct of social, cultural and demographic changes that have occurred in the last half of the twentieth century. Scholars have yet to understand whether the disappearance of a healthy downtown as a community’s shared center contributed to this loss. This study examines the historical decline of downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma, as revealed by interviews with Tulsans who witnessed the transformations, and as quantified by GIS spatial analysis of the number, concentration and dispersion of civic and fraternal organizations for each decade from 1950-2000. City directories were used as a data source for exploring geospatial densities of volunteer association locations over time. The study reveals a linear decline in the number of organizations per 10,000 population over time and indentifies an even more dramatic geospatial dispersion away from downtown which exhibits a pattern of exponential decay.