What's the story behind a name?

Published: Tuesday, April 14, 2009 7:00 am

The Journal Record

OKLAHOMA CITY - Deep Deuce is a fascinating, steeped-in-history area, but do you know how it got its name? What about the Mesta Park neighborhood? The Paseo? There are stories behind the naming of some of Oklahoma City's oldest areas and neighboring towns, some of them reflecting pretty tense disagreements over where to locate the state Capitol.

For example, the Capitol Hill area was incorporated as a separate town, but was later annexed into Oklahoma City, said Larry "Buddy" Johnson, reference librarian at the Ronald J. Norick Library downtown.

One story behind its name is that its developer wanted to get the state Capitol moved there.

Bob Blackburn, executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society, said the river operated as a kind of moat around Capitol Hill, which was established in 1889, keeping it separate from the city.

"When I was growing up, people from Capitol Hill still had a sense that they grew up in a little town," he said.

Deep Deuce refers to NE Second Street, at one time the main artery of the section of town where black residents lived under segregation.

"That was the place where the cultural center of the African-American segregated community was," Johnson said.

Johnson produced a quote from author Ralph Ellison, who said "Deep Second was our fond nickname for the block." Johnson said longtime residents referred to it by that name in oral histories.

Blackburn offered another reason for the "Deep" designation, noting that at the time Second Street went down into the river valley.

"Deep Deuce was developed when the river was still a wild river," he said. "Second Street was the main street of a city within a city."

Of the CEC triangle (Carverdale-Edwards-Creston Hills), Johnson said the Edwards neighborhood was named for black millionaire and developer Walter J. Edwards, Carverdale for George Washington Carver.

"Like other developers in the area, Edwards quickly saw the need for more housing for returning soldiers," Johnson said. "Even though black soldiers received the same GI Bill benefits as other soldiers, they were prevented from using those benefits because there was no place for them to purchase new single-family homes."

He said Edwards may have been the first developer in the country to secure GI Bill and FHA funds for black neighborhoods, doing a great service toward ending segregation.

The Paseo, originally called Spanish Village, was developed by G.A. "Doc" Nichols in the late 1920s. It reflects the Spanish-revival architecture popular at the time.

"If you look in Heritage Hills, a lot of the houses have the tile roof and the sort of stucco

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