Norman (zip 73071), Oklahoma
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+10.9% since 2010
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Oklahoma City, the capital and largest city in the state, is a major center for the oil industry and related manufacturing. For most of its life “OKC” has been considered a fairly dull city located in a dull part of the country, but that is changing. The last oil bust in the 1990s and the 1995 Murrah Federal Building bombing tragedy seemed to spark something in the city, and it has undergone a major renaissance, particularly in its downtown areas funded in part by a well-supported sales tax initiative.
Downtown is now clean and modern with unusually attractive parks and a nicely restored “Bricktown” historic residential and entertainment district with a canal and promenade. A new art museum, library and performing arts center, and new sports facilities dot the area. The area also has a noted zoo and science museum and the Thunder NBA team.
The University of Oklahoma in suburban Norman south of town brings a college town element. The oil industry still dominates the local economy, but the state government and an increasing base of small manufacturers and service businesses is starting to balance things out. The low Cost of Living Index is a big attraction. Crime rates are a negative, but overall this friendly city seems to be headed for better times.
The area is located along the frequently dry North Canadian River. The surrounding country contains the gently rolling Arbuckle Mountains, 80 miles south. Although some Gulf influence exists, the climate is mainly continental. Summers are long and usually hot. Temperatures reach 100 degrees about 10 times a year. Breezes and relatively low humidity temper the heat somewhat. Winters are comparatively mild and short with one winter in three having temperatures below zero. Spring and summer storms can be severe, spawning tornadoes and winter “mixes” of sleet and freezing rain. First freeze is November 1, last is early April.
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