"Building an Inclusive Community"
Location of Norman in Cleveland County and Oklahoma
|o Mayor||Breea Clark|
|o City manager||Darrel Pyle|
|o City||189.41 sq mi (490.57 km2)|
|o Land||178.87 sq mi (463.27 km2)|
|o Water||10.54 sq mi (27.30 km2)|
|Elevation||1,171 ft (357 m)|
| o Estimate |
|o Rank||U.S.: 225th|
|o Density||690.29/sq mi (266.52/km2)|
|o Urban||103,898 (U.S.: 296th)|
|o Metro||1,319,677 (U.S.: 42nd)|
|Time zone||UTC−6 (Central (CST))|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC−5 (CDT)|
73019, 73026, 73069, 73070, 73071, 73072
|GNIS feature ID||1095903|
Norman is a city in the U.S. state of Oklahoma located 20 miles (32 km) south of downtown Oklahoma City. As the county seat of Cleveland County and a part of the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, its population was 110,925 at the 2010 census. Norman's estimated population of 124,880 in 2019 makes it the third-largest city in Oklahoma.
Norman was settled during the Land Run of 1889, which opened the former Unassigned Lands of Indian Territory to American pioneer settlement. The city was named in honor of Abner Norman, the area's initial land surveyor, and was formally incorporated on , 1891. Economically the city has prominent higher education and related research industries, as it is home to the University of Oklahoma, the largest university in the state, with nearly 32,000 students enrolled. The university is well known for its sporting events by teams under the banner of the nickname "Sooners", with over 85,000 people routinely attending football games. The university is home to several museums, including the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, which contains the largest collection of French Impressionist art ever given to an American university, as well as the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.
The National Weather Center, located in Norman, houses a unique collection of university, state, federal, and private sector organizations that work together to improve the understanding of events related to the Earth's atmosphere. Norman lies within Tornado Alley, a geographic region where tornadic activity is particularly frequent and intense. The Oklahoma City metropolitan area, including Norman, is the most tornado-prone area in the world. The Storm Prediction Center (SPC), a branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is located at the NWC. SPC forecasts severe storm and tornado outbreaks nationwide. Additionally, research is conducted at the co-located National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL), which includes field research and operates various experimental weather radars.
The Oklahoma region became part of the United States with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Prior to the American Civil War the United States government began relocating the Five Civilized Tribes - the five Native American tribes that the United States officially recognized via treaty - to Oklahoma. Treaties of 1832 and 1833 assigned the area known today as Norman to the Creek Nation.
Following the Civil War, the Creeks were accused of aiding the Confederacy; as a result they ceded the region back to the United States in 1866. In the early 1870s, the federal government undertook a survey of these unassigned lands. Abner Ernest Norman, a 23-year-old surveyor from Kentucky, was hired to oversee part of this project. Norman's work crew set up camp near what is today the corner of Classen and Lindsey streets; it was there that the men, perhaps jokingly, carved a sign on an elm tree that read "Norman's Camp", in honor of their young boss. In 1887, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway began service to the area, which was later opened to settlement as part of the Land Run of 1889; early settlers decided to keep the name "Norman".
On , 1889, the Land Run saw the founding of Norman, with at least 150 residents spending the night in makeshift campsites; by the next morning a downtown was already being constructed. Almost immediately two prominent Norman businessmen, former Purcell railroad freight agent Delbert Larsh and railroad station chief cashier Thomas Waggoner, began lobbying for the territorial government to locate its first university in Norman. The two were interested in growing the city and had reasoned that, rather than try to influence legislatures to locate the heavily contested territory capital in Norman, it made sense to attempt to secure the state's first university instead (a move that would be far less controversial). On , 1890, Larsh and Waggoner were successful with the passage of Council Bill 114, establishing the University of Oklahoma in Norman approximately 18 years before Oklahoma statehood.
The City of Norman was formally incorporated on , 1891.
The city has continued to grow throughout the decades. By 1902 the downtown district contained two banks, two hotels, a flour mill, and other businesses; by 1913 there were over 3,700 residents living in Norman when the Oklahoma Railway Company decided to extend its interurban streetcar running from Oklahoma City to Moore into Norman, spurring additional population growth. The rail lines eventually transitioned to freight during the 1940s as the United States Numbered Highway system developed. The city population reached 11,429 in 1940.
In 1941, the University of Oklahoma and Norman city officials established Max Westheimer Field, a university airstrip, and then leased it to the U.S. Navy as a Naval Flight Training Center in 1942. The training center was used for training combat pilots during World War II. A second training center, known as Naval Air Technical Training Center, and a naval hospital were later established to the south. In the years following World War II the airstrip was transferred back to the university's control. Today the airstrip is called the University of Oklahoma Westheimer Airport. Following the war the remaining military presence and post-war veterans who came to Norman to get an education again grew the city's population, which was 27,006 by 1950. The Navy again utilized the bases in a lesser capacity from 1952 to 1959 in support of the Korean War effort.
With the completion of Interstate 35 in June 1959, Norman found its role as a bedroom community to Oklahoma City increasing rapidly; in 1960 Norman's population was 33,412 but by the end of the decade had grown to 52,117. Throughout the 1960s Norman's land mass increased by 174 square miles (450 km2) by annexing surrounding areas. The city's growth trends have continued early in the 21st century, with the population reaching 95,694 in 2000 and 110,925 in 2010.
The U.S. Census Bureau reported Norman's geographical coordinates as (35°14'26"N 97°20'43"W). This appears to be the geographical center of the city limits, which include all of Lake Thunderbird. Virtually all of Norman's development is well to the west of this point.
As of 2010, the city has a total area of 189.42 square miles (490.6 km2), of which 178.77 square miles (463.0 km2) is land and 10.65 square miles (27.6 km2) is water.
Norman and the surrounding areas are mostly flat with an elevation near 1,171 feet (357 m). The terrain in the western section of Norman is prairie, while the eastern section, including the area surrounding Lake Thunderbird, consists of some 6,000 acres (24 km2) of lakes and Cross Timbers forest. The lowest point within city limits is approximately 970 feet (296 m) above sea level (located at 35.20388N, 97.17735W). The highest point is approximately 1,245 feet (379 m) above sea level (located at 35.21266N, 97.39000W).
|Climate data for Norman, Oklahoma|
|Record high °F (°C)||81
|Average high °F (°C)||50.0
|Daily mean °F (°C)||39.0
|Average low °F (°C)||28.1
|Record low °F (°C)||-9
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||1.50
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||1.9
|Average precipitation days||5.2||6.0||8.0||7.5||10.0||9.4||6.0||6.5||7.4||7.7||5.9||6.2||85.8|
|Average snowy days||1.0||0.9||0.3||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0.2||1.4||3.8|
|Source: Records (1894-2011); Normals (1981-2010)|
Norman falls within a temperate, humid subtropical climate region that is identified as "Cfa" class on the Köppen climate classification. On average Norman receives about 38 inches (970 mm) of precipitation per year; May and June are the wettest months. Temperatures average 61 °F (16 °C) for the year. Average daytime highs range from 50 °F (10 °C) in January to nearly 93 °F (34 °C) in August; average lows range from 28 °F (-2 °C) in January to 71 °F (22 °C) in July and August. Summers can be extremely hot, as was evident in the historically-hot summer of 1980, and again in 2011, when temperatures climbed above 100 °F (38 °C) over most days from mid-June through early September (see http://www.nws.noaa.gov/climate/index.php?wfo=oun, look up June, July and August 2011 data). Consistent winds, averaging near 10 mph (16 km/h) and usually from the south to southeast, help to temper hotter weather during the summer and intensify cold periods during the winter.
The average growing season in Norman is 209 days, but plants that can withstand short periods of colder temperatures may have an additional three to six weeks. Winter months tend to be cloudier than those in summer, with the percentage of possible sunshine ranging from an average of about 55% in winter to nearly 80% in summer.
Norman lies within Tornado Alley, the region of the United States where tornadic activity is most frequent. The city has a tornado season lasting from March through June, with over 80% of all reported tornadoes occurring during these months. The Oklahoma City metropolitan area, including Norman, is the most tornado-prone area in the United States. On May 10, 2010, a tornado outbreak occurred in southeastern Norman that resulted in the loss of multiple homes and businesses. On April 13, 2012 Norman was struck by a weak tornado. On May 6, 2015, the northwestern part of Norman was hit by a weak tornado.
As of the census of 2010, there were 110,925 people, 44,661 households, and 24,913 families residing within the city. By population, Norman was the third-largest city in Oklahoma and the 225th-largest city in the United States. The population density was 616 people per square mile (208.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 84.7% White, 4.3% African American, 4.7% Native American, 3.8% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.9% from other races, and 5.5% from two or more races.Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.4% of the population.
Of the 44,661 households, 25.0% had children under the age of 18, 41.5% were married couples living together, 10.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 44.2% were non-families. Individuals living alone made up 30.7% of all households; 7.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.33 and the average family size was 2.94.
The age distribution was 5.8% under the age of 5, 5.7% from 5 to 9, 5.2% from 10 to 14, 8.9% from 15 to 19, 16.0% from 20 to 24, 9.0% from 25 to 29, 6.6% from 30 to 34, 5.6% from 35 to 39, 5.3% from 40 to 44, 5.9% from 45 to 49, 5.9% from 50 to 54, 5.4% from 55 to 59, 4.6% from 60 to 64, 3.2% from 65 to 69, 2.3% from 70 to 74, 1.8% from 75 to 79, 1.4% from 80 to 84, and 1.3% over 85 years of age. The median age was 29.6 years.Males made up 49.7% of the population while females made up 50.3%.
The median household income in the city was $44,396, and the median income for a family was $62,826. Males had a median income of $41,859 versus $35,777 for females. The per capita income for the city was $24,586. About 11.8% of families and 19.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.9% of those under age 18 and 8.9% of those age 65 or over.
Although religious information is not collected by the U.S. census, according to a 2000 survey by Dale E. Jones of the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies, 50.2% of the population in Norman is affiliated with a religious institution. Of those 43.6% were Southern Baptist, 15.0% Catholic Church, 13.0% United Methodist, 3.3% Assembly of God, 2.8% Churches of Christ, 2.1% Latter-day Saint (Mormon), 2.1% Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, 1.9% Disciples of Christ, 1.7% Presbyterian Church, and 14.6% other Christian denominations or religions.
The University of Oklahoma employs over 10,700 personnel across three campuses, making it a significant driver of Norman's economy. The campus is a center for scientific and technological research, having contributed over $277 million to such programs in 2009.
Norman is also home of the National Weather Center, a cooperative research effort between the University of Oklahoma and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that houses a number of weather- and climate-related organizations; the city is also the proposed location of a future National Weather Museum. As a result of this on-going academic and public weather research, several private meteorological businesses are present in the city, including Weathernews Americas, Inc.; Vieux and Associates, Inc.; Weather Decision Technologies; WeatherBank, Inc.; and Computational Geosciences, Inc.
In addition to weather Norman is a center for other scientific ventures - public and private. The Oklahoma Geological Survey, which conducts geological research, and the Oklahoma Renewable Energy Council, which is a public-private alliance that fosters renewable energy technology with the aim of establishing more viable applications, make the city their home. SouthWest NanoTechnologies is a producer of single-walled carbon nanotubes. Bergey Windpower is a supplier of small wind turbines.
Other major employers in the city include Norman Regional Health System, Norman Public Schools, Johnson Controls, Griffin Memorial Hospital, Hitachi, Astellas Pharma Technologies, Albon Engineering, Xyant Technology, MSCI, Office Max National Sales Center, SITEL, the United States Postal Service National Center for Employee Development, Sysco Corporation, and AT&T.
University North Park, a lifestyle center with planned development on over 12 million square feet (1.1 km2) of land, is on 24th Ave NW along the I-35 corridor between Robinson Street and Tecumseh Road. Begun in 2006, the project will feature 2 miles (3.2 km) of parks, offices, and high-end retail once completed.
In 2010, Norman became the 17th city in the United States to adopt a council resolution giving it status as a Fair Trade Town. The resolution states that the city of Norman supports the purchasing of goods from the local community; when goods cannot be purchased locally the city will support buying from producers abroad who meet Fair Trade standards. These standards include supporting quality of life in developing countries and planning for environmental sustainability.
Norman enjoys many cultural attractions that are funded by the university. The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art made national and international news in 2000 when it was given the Weitzenhoffer Collection, the largest collection of French Impressionist art ever given to an American university. The collection includes works by Mary Cassatt, Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Camille Pissarro.
The Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History is a museum containing over 50,000 square feet (5,000 m2) of exhibits ranging from archaeology, paleontology, ethnology, herpetology, ornithology, and Native American studies. Its exhibits are intended to immerse visitors in the state's long history. The museum features many complete collections of dinosaur fossils and is also noted for its Paleozoic collection, considered to be one of the largest and most important in existence.
The Moore-Lindsay House is a Queen Anne-style home built prior to 1900 by prominent Norman home builder William Moore; it was purchased by the city of Norman in 1973 and today serves as the city and Cleveland County's historical museum. Located at 508 N. Peters, the Moore-Lindsay House's architecture is representative of Norman during the Victorian era. The Cleveland County Historical Society maintains a collection of over 5,000 rare books, documents, and other artifacts in its archives located inside the house.
Catlett Music Center at the University of Oklahoma features many orchestral and jazz performances and the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts' Schools of Dance, Drama, and Musical Theatre offer many student programs throughout the year.
The city is also home to many privately funded galleries and performance sites.
Norman hosts many free festivals and community events that occur throughout the year.
The Norman Medieval Fair is a celebration of medieval-themed games, art, and culture, with highlights of jousting, human chessmatch combats & other combat shows, and several musical & dance acts. The event is typically held during the last weekend of March or first weekend of April in Reaves Park, near the university. It has been held annually in Norman since 1976 and was originally a forum for the English Department at the University of Oklahoma. It is the largest weekend event held in the state of Oklahoma, with over 325,000 people in attendance in 2006 and growing yearly. Events Media Network has named Medieval Fair one of the top 100 events in the United States.
Norman Music Festival is an annual weekend music festival held in April in downtown Norman. Established in 2008, the event had over 26,000 people in attendance during the 2009 festival. Originally a one-day event, the festival has quickly grown so large that it is now an all-weekend concert series. The festival highlights both local musicians and internationally acclaimed artists and features many forms and styles of music.
Groovefest is a music festival hosted annually at Andrews Park. On the last Sunday in September, the music festival is held to help raise awareness about human rights. The event was established in 1986 by the University of Oklahoma chapter of Amnesty International.
The Chocolate Festival, the only fundraiser of the year for the city's Firehouse Arts Center, was ranked #3 for food festivals across America by the Food Network. This festival offers various chocolate tasting sessions, chocolate art competitions and exhibits, chocolate dessert competitions and more. It has been an annual tradition since 1983.
Jazz in June is a music festival held the last full weekend in June at various venues across Norman. The festival features both jazz and blues musical performances as well as jazz educational clinics taught by professional musicians appearing in the festival and post-concert jam sessions at local venues which bring headliners and local artists together. Jazz in June, one of the major cultural events in the state as well as the City of Norman, attracts a combined concert audience of 50,000 drawn from throughout the state, region and nation. Another 100,000 or more enjoy these same performances through post-festival broadcasts on KGOU Public Radio as well as other public radio stations throughout the state, region and nation.
Summer Breeze Concert Series is a series of concerts held from Spring to Fall at various park venues across Norman. The series is sponsored by the Performing Arts Studio.
The University of Oklahoma sponsors many collegiate sporting events in Norman. The school is well known for its football program, having won seven NCAA Division I National Football Championships. In addition, it has the best winning percentage of any Division I FBS team since the introduction of the AP Poll in 1936 and has played in four BCS National Championship Games since 1998.
During football season, the Oklahoma Sooners football program contributes significantly to Norman's economy. During game day weekends, Norman sees an influx out of town traffic from all over the country with over 80,000 people routinely attending football games. Norman's local businesses, especially areas around campus and Campus Corner, benefit greatly from the game day traffic alone. The program ranks in the top 10 of ESPN's top college football money-makers with home games generating revenues at approximately $59 million and game day operating expenses at about $6.1 million.
In 1951 and 1994 its baseball team won the NCAA national championship, and the women's softball team won the national championship in 2000, 2013, 2016, and 2017. The gymnastics teams have won four national championships since 2001.
Other university men's sports include: basketball, cross country, golf, gymnastics, football, Ultimate Frisbee, tennis, track and field, and wrestling. The OU Sooners men's hockey team competes in the American College Hockey Association, at the "club" level, but has yet to apply for higher-level play. Due to the lack of a rink in Norman, the team plays at the Blazers Ice Centre in south Oklahoma City. Women's sports include: basketball, cross country, golf, gymnastics, football, Ultimate Frisbee, rowing, soccer, softball, tennis, track and field, and volleyball.
Norman's Parks and Recreation Department facilitates 55 neighborhood and community parks, three recreation centers, a golf course and driving range, three disc golf courses, a complete swim complex with waterslides, a wading pool, 32 tennis courts, and three special services centers (that offer cultural arts and senior citizen activities). Griffin Community Park Sports Complex includes 16 soccer fields, 14 baseball/softball fields, and four football fields.
A council-manager government has been in place in Norman since the adoption of its city charter on , 1919. A councilor from each of the city's eight council wards is elected to office every two years, each serving a term of two years. Councilors are elected from their own respective wards based on a plurality voting system; a councilor from each ward serves on the Norman City Council. A mayor is elected by the entire voting population of Norman and serves as an at-large councilor; the mayor serves for a term of three years. As a whole, the council acts as the legislative body of city government; it aims to pass laws, approve the city budget, and manage efficiency in the government. The City Council appoints a professional City Manager who is responsible for the day-to-day administrative activities of the city. The City of Norman has approximately 650 employees working in eleven departments and 31 boards and commissions that help oversee and implement the policies and services of the city. The City Council meets bi-weekly in City Hall located at 201 W. Gray Street in downtown Norman; various boards and commissions meet in accordance with their own schedules. The present mayor of Norman is Breea Clark (elected in 2019), and the city manager is Darrel Pyle (appointed in 2019). In accordance with the charter of the city of Norman, all city elected positions are nonpartisan.
Municipal and state laws are enforced by the Norman Police Department. In 2010, Norman's crime index was 33% less than the national average. There were two murders, 47 rapes, 36 robberies, 53 assaults, and 811 burglaries in 2010.
The University of Oklahoma is the largest university in the state of Oklahoma, with approximately 30,000 students enrolled. The university was founded in 1890, prior to Oklahoma statehood. The university includes both Norman and Oklahoma City campuses with the main campus located in Norman. In 2007, The Princeton Review named the University of Oklahoma one of its "Best Value" colleges. The school is ranked first per capita among public universities in enrollment of National Merit Scholars and has seen 28 Rhodes Scholars graduate since the program's inception in 1902. PC Magazine and the Princeton Review rated it one of the "20 Most Wired Colleges" in both 2006 and 2008, while the Carnegie Foundation classifies it as a research university with "highest research activity."
The city of Norman is served by the Moore Norman Technology Center. The school was established in 1972 and has been awarded the Oklahoma Association of Technology Center's Gold Star School Award on multiple occasions. The Franklin Road Campus consists of six buildings totaling 323,500 square feet (30,100 m2) of classroom, meeting, and office space. The school has a full-time staff of 207.
Public school districts in Oklahoma are independent of other local governments. Several districts overlap the municipal boundaries of the City of Norman.
Norman Public Schools is the largest district serving Norman; there are 15 elementary schools, four middle schools, and two high schools in the district. More than 17,000 students are enrolled in the district, making it one of the largest in the state.
Noble Public Schools is a school district that serves southeastern portions of Norman, the adjoining cities of Noble and Slaughterville, and parts of Cleveland County. It consists of two elementary schools, an intermediate school, a middle school, and a high school.
Other school districts with territory within the city are the Robin Hill Public School District and the Moore Public School District.
Several private schools also serve the area:
Norman is served by three public libraries, Norman Public Library Central, Norman Public Library East, and Norman Public Library West, all of which are part of the 12-branch Pioneer Library System which serves the entirety of Cleveland County, McClain County and Pottawatomie County in Central Oklahoma. The library has a reciprocal agreement with the Metropolitan Library System of Oklahoma City through which those eligible for a library card in one system are also eligible in the other. Cardholders are also able to borrow books unavailable in the PLS collection through the use of Interlibrary Loan. Books can be reserved and shipped to a local library free of charge. In addition to books, the library maintains a collection of periodicals, DVD videos, audio books, e-books and research materials.
The Bizzell Memorial Library at the University of Oklahoma is the largest library in the state of Oklahoma, containing more than five million volumes. In addition to books, the library maintains over 17,000 feet (5,200 m) in length of manuscripts and archives, 1.6 million photographs, and more than 1.5 million maps. The library also houses more than 50 books printed before the year 1500.
The Norman Transcript is the most widely circulated Norman-based newspaper in the city. It is a daily newspaper covering events in Cleveland and McClain counties. It is the oldest continuous business in Norman and was founded shortly after the Land Run of April 1889 on , 1889.
The Oklahoma Daily is a student-run newspaper at the University of Oklahoma. It was first published in 1897, several years after the university's founding. The paper has received numerous awards for journalism excellence including the Associated Collegiate Press' Pacemaker Award.
KGOU is a full-service public radio station licensed to the University of Oklahoma. The station serves Norman and the greater Oklahoma City metropolitan area with a news/talk/jazz format, using programs from National Public Radio, Public Radio International, and others.
Norman TV is a government-access television station airing on Cox Communications cable television channel 20. It broadcasts programming provided by the City of Norman, including video from city council meetings.
Scheduled air transport, major commercial air transportation is available at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City, located approximately 20 miles (30 km) northwest of Norman. The airport serves more than 3.78 million passengers per year.
Norman is served locally by Max Westheimer Airport, a general aviation airport run by the University of Oklahoma. The airport is one of only two airports in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area designated as a reliever airport to Will Rogers World Airport. Max Westheimer Airport is capable of handling aircraft up through and including executive class jet aircraft.
The Cleveland Area Rapid Transit, operated by the University of Oklahoma, provides bus service throughout the 191-square-mile (490 km2) Norman area. CART also provides service to the Social Security Administration offices in Moore, as well as to Oklahoma City's EMBARK transit hub downtown. EMBARK maintains a fleet of buses and trolleys serving the greater Oklahoma City area, with a new light-rail system expected to begin operations in 2018. All service to Will Rogers World Airport is not currently available.
In 2008, CART became the 39th public transportation system in the United States to be featured on Google Transit, a website that allows transportation users to electronically plan their travel routes. In 2010, CART buses were modified to include a GPS tracking system that allows riders to see the location of buses and their predicted arrival times via the CART and Google websites. CART buses transport more than 1.3 million travelers annually.
Although Norman currently has no light rail or commuter rail service, there is growing interest in incorporating such services into the city's future transportation plans as part of the Oklahoma City metro area's regional transit system.
The predominant form of transportation in Norman is roads and highways with 80.0% of all residents driving alone to work, 9.0% carpooling, and just 1.3% taking public transportation. As of 2007, Interstate 35 alone was handling over 99,000 vehicles per day. Other major highways include State Highway 9, a portion of which serves 28,000 vehicles per day, and U.S. Highway 77, which serves more than 25,000 vehicles per day.
Norman is served by two major federal highways:
Norman is served by two major Oklahoma state highways:
Norman is also connected to the planned South Loop Turnpike via the Norman Spur Turnpike, which follows State Highway 9 from a point west of Interstate 35 to the H.E. Bailey Turnpike (Interstate 44) south of Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City. Plans are going forward to connect the Norman Spur to Airport Road (Oklahoma 152) in Oklahoma City and to the north to the existing John Kilpatrick Turnpike that ends just south of Interstate 40 near Yukon and moving north across the north side of Oklahoma City to the Turner Turnpike to Tulsa. The expansion will allow Norman residents a high-speed, limited-access route to the west without having to enter the heavily trafficked areas of Oklahoma City. Future plans call for an extension east and north of the Turnpike to connect Norman directly to Interstate 40 east and the Turner Turnpike to Tulsa, greatly reducing travel times for residents because they will be able to avoid Oklahoma City's traffic in all directions except for northbound Interstate 35.
Electric utility companies servicing Norman include Oklahoma Gas & Electric, which is headquartered in Oklahoma City, and Oklahoma Electric Cooperative (a utility cooperative). Natural gas is provided by Oklahoma Natural Gas. The city's Utility Department offers water, wastewater, and recycling services to parts of the city as well as solid waste pickup citywide.
In a study published in 2007, the National Institutes of Health deemed hexavalent chromium VI (chromium-6) to be a likely carcinogen in lab animals when consumed in large quantities (>62.5ppm) in drinking water.
The EPA does not currently require testing for or set limits on chromium-6 levels in American cities' water supplies (but it does require total chromium-3 and chromium-6 levels not exceed 100 ppb). The official total chromium-3/chromium-6 level present in Norman's drinking water has ranged from 20 to 80 ppb. It has been proposed that the source of the chromium-6 is the Garber-Wellington Aquifer, which is known to have elevated levels of heavy metals.
The issue of chromium-6 levels gained national attention with the 2000 film release of Erin Brockovich, which detailed a California woman's legal fight against Pacific Gas and Electric Company for allegedly contaminating her hometown with excessive levels of the element.
In the past the Norman water supply has also been criticized for the presence of excessive levels of arsenic. The city is attempting to combat this problem by building new wells and removing older ones.
Norman Regional Health System is a multi-campus system that provides medical services in Norman and throughout south central Oklahoma. Its Porter Avenue campus, located north of downtown Norman, is a 337-bed general hospital providing a wide range of services including acute care. In October 2009, the Norman Regional HealthPlex campus opened in west Norman. It provides a 152-bed facility specializing in cardiology, cardiovascular services, as well as women's and children's services.
Norman has a wide variety of neighborhoods. Downtown Norman is an area of approximately 2 square miles (5 km2) bounded by University Blvd., Symmes St., Porter Ave., and Daws St.; primary streets include Main St. and Gray St. The area consists of restaurants, art galleries, and other businesses; it is home to some of the oldest buildings in Oklahoma.
Hall Park is an area northeast of downtown Norman that was originally an independent township; in 2005 it was annexed into Norman, becoming one of its neighborhoods. The area is home to many middle-class suburban homes and is historically important in that it was advertised as the United States' first "all-electric town." President Ronald Reagan, then an executive with General Electric, attended Hall Park's grand opening ceremonies in 1962 where he was named the town's honorary first mayor.
The University of Oklahoma and the area surrounding it are home to many historically significant neighborhoods. The university itself has a unique Gothic-inspired architecture known as "Cherokee Gothic," so named by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Churches and houses in the surrounding neighborhoods can be described as neo-Gothic or Queen Anne in style. Norman has two city-designated historic preservation districts in the area: the Miller Historic District, bounded by Symmes St., Classen Blvd., and Miller Ave.; and the Chautauqua Historic District, bounded by Symmes St., Brooks St., Chautauqua Ave., and Lahoma Ave. Both of these residential neighborhoods contain houses designed from a mixture of architectural styles dating from 1903 to 1935, with the majority of the Miller neighborhood being of the Bungalow or American Craftsman style homes. Any external changes or repairs to homes in these areas must be approved by the Norman Historic Preservation Commission.
The area immediately north of the university is known as Campus Corner and contains a mixture of businesses, bars, and restaurants. The neighborhoods to the east of the campus are home to many students, both in residential housing and high-rise condos/apartments.
In accordance with Sister Cities International, an organization that began under President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956, Norman has been given four international sister cities in an attempt to foster cross-cultural understanding:
Negroes are not allowed to live or work in the town of Norman, containing 2,000 population. Last winter a negro went there to put a tin roof on a building. He was attacked by a mob and cruelly beaten. He brought suit for $20,000 against the town, claiming that the police officers failed to protect him.
The negro is thought less of here than the Indian. A negro is not allowed to live or stay in this town. They are hounded and driven out, mostly by the ultra abolitionists and hoodlums of the town.
William Pickens set a precedent last week when he led the forum meeting at the University of Oklahoma at Norman, a town near here where Negroes are not allowed to live, and several years ago 'dared not be seen after dark.'
'Norman was a very traditional Southern town,' [Norman Human Rights Commission chair Richard] Kenderdine said, explaining reasons for the opposition. Until the early 1960s, Norman was known as a 'sundown town' where blacks dared not be seen in public after dark, he said. And even in the late 1960s, blacks had trouble buying homes in Norman, he said.