Texarkana has been known as the Twin Cities practically since it was founded.
It is a rarity in this country for two cities to butt up against a common street that is a state border. It is probably a rarity in any country.
This duality is part of our town's unique nature. It is why State Line Avenue, where the two cities adjoin, has been called our signature street.
But maybe the idea is outdated, or at least upside down.
Texarkana does have two distinct sides of town, but State Line Avenue does not sever them.
The visible differences in Texarkana are not obvious along an east-west divide, but in a north and south comparison.
Drive along the streets north of Interstate 30. Then do the same on the south side. The farther from the Interstate corridor, the less homogenized our town seems.
The newer public schools are being built north of the Interstate on both sides of town.
Texas A&M University-Texarkana, which has been in full-blown building mode for more than a decade, is north of the Interstate.
Almost all the most visible new projects are north of the Interstate on both sides of town.
If you ask someone south of Interstate 30 to name the center of town, they'd probably say downtown. If you ask someone on the north side the same question, they'd probably say, hmm, I-30, or Richmond Road, or the Texarkana Pavilion shopping district.
The historic districts are south of I-30. All the traditional buildings and institutions — city halls, museums, theaters and the like — are south of I-30, new office plazas to the north.
To the north we build roads. To the south we resurface them.
The south side is about renovation, reclamation, restoration and repurposing. On the north side, it is about new construction, consistency and keeping up with the Joneses.
Is there any doubt declining neighborhoods are more prevalent south of I-30?
Is there any doubt new development rolls out in a more elaborate fashion and at a far faster pace north of the Interstate?
For anyone who departs from the Interstate corridor and wanders through our town both north and south, you don't have to look too deeply to see the differences.
Example: When affordable housing tried to get a foothold north of I-30 several months ago, it quickly was quashed. But south of I-30 in downtown Texarkana, affordable housing is defined by the $26 million Hotel Grim reclamation project.
None of these distinctions are necessarily bad things. Some south-siders like renovation, restoring houses and buildings; They'd rather not live north of the Interstate.
And this eye test is not an absolute measure by any means; maybe something more akin to a 70-30 split. There are some major new projects south of Interstate 30. There are some old neighborhoods and reclamation projects north of I-30. But, without doubt, one side embraces more of the new and the other more of the old.
This division rolled out organically, of course. It was never planned to happen. Towns expand and change. When a major highway comes into play, progress resets. It's predictable but not necessarily premeditated.
If I-49 going north ever gets completed, it might complicate things even more.
But as of now, instead of just having a signature street, we have two important dividers that cross: State Line Avenue and I-30. (Hence the crosshairs reference in the headline.) This allows us to split Texarkana into four quadrants.
Quadranting (my word) is a tool that has been used for eons to complicate simple equations.
In human interactions or negotiating, for example, the divisions are plotted in the spaces created by two crossed lines:
Q1) You don't win, I don't win. Q2) You win, I don't win. Q3) I win, you don't win. Q4) We both win.
Or, time management: Q1) It's not urgent and it's not important. Q2) It's important but not urgent. Q3) It's urgent but not important. Q4) It's urgent and important.
If we sectioned off Texarkana into quadrants with Interstate 30 and State Line Avenue being the dividers it would look like this:
Q1) Arkansas side, fix and maintain. Q2) Texas side, fix and maintain. Q3) Arkansas side, new and infused. Q4) Texas side, new and infused.
In this case, the difference between Q3 and Q4 is simply what side of town you prefer.
But what is happening north of I-30 is conspicuous and looks and feels a lot different than what is happening south of it. Because of that, the idea that State Line Avenue somehow defines us is a myth, and not congruous to the existing currents that move this town.
State Line Avenue doesn't define or divide the two Texarkanas anymore — though it still is a romantic notion that may be worth perpetuating.
Interstate 30 does.