How did we get here, from there…? (Part 1)

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The face of Crescent has changed a lot over the past 120 years, from our humble beginnings in 1893 when Crescent City was formed on 60 acres of land in the Oklahoma Territory.  Most of you have some understanding of our history, remnants of that history still visible in our landscape, the abandoned railroad tracks that cut through our town, the historic buildings in downtown, and historic homes that have withstood the test of time.

Ok…  So I really didn’t want to turn this blog post into a history lesson but I have to say that I found this project fascinating.  When I started working here in the City of Crescent back in October of 2017, I started to immerse myself into the ordinances, the resolutions, gaining as much knowledge as I could about the current “State of the City”.  One of the first things that I realized is that the various maps of the city that we had hanging around City Hall, none of them were the same, they all looked different, albeit in very subtle ways.  I saw maps that showed a solid line along the western edge of the city (Pine St), some that had a few offshoots that kicked out west past Pine St.  We had maps that showed our northern border at one location, others that the border was several hundred feet South…  on the Eastern side of town, some maps showed that we had annexed the land that encompasses the Public School ballfields, others… well they of course showed the limits stopped at Ash St.  What I also found was that there was no definitive answer to the question… “Where is the Official Map of the City of Crescent”?

I decided to document the journey for you here, so you can all see the work that has been done to answer that question.  I started by contacting the Logan County Assessor and the Oklahoma State Tax Commission to learn what I could about the maps that they had on file for our town.  It was an eye-widening experience to say the least.  They also had multiple maps showing different limits, but they had a map that they had been using as the “official map” for the past 20 years or so.  They were willing to share that map with me as a digital file for use in ArcGIS (see image below).

The gold standard for mapping in the government sector is ArcGIS.  ArcGIS is a software mapping tool that is standardized amongst agencies that need to have a digital record of a physical place.  Most of you have used it and never even knew it, have you ever gone to the County Assessors website and used their map tool to find information on your property taxes?  How about Google or Bing Maps…  Anyone remember MapQuest? All use GIS to represent the maps on their servers in a user-friendly interface for you, the public.  I knew that there was going to be value in having a little understanding in GIS, so I took a class at the University of Central Oklahoma, holy cow… am I glad I did.

I started the map with a simple outline and some streets.  Along with the city outline, the Logan County Assessor also shared a ton of other map data with us to create a baseline map, this included all the subdivisions, blocks, lots, and parcels for our town.  I loaded all this data into GIS and started my research.  The best way to get an actual, legal representation of the current city limits is to reach all the way back into the archives of the City Council Minutes, Ordinances, and Resolutions that have been passed over the last 120+ years.  I scanned every document I could find, we have an archive of Council minutes that date back to November of 1893, and most of the resolutions and ordinances that have been passed along the way.   I read every page, searching for annexations or extensions… the process took months but I am happy to say that it turned out very well.