There’s no question Tyler is a great place to live. I’ve spent most of my life here and I still enjoy all the walking the Azalea District and going to Rose Stadium every Friday each fall. I reflect fondly on childhood memories of fishing in Lake Tyler and riding in the Beauty and the Beast Bicycle Tour.

Still, I can’t help but think I’ve earned the right to gripe about the city I’ve always called home. There are few things about the Rose Capital I think we all would like to change, such as:


If you’ve spent an extended amount of time driving on South Broadway, you understand the blood-boiling phenomenon that is Tyler traffic. I often wonder if the federal government assigned the nation’s worst driving offenders to Tyler as punishment for violating some obscure rule limiting the number of churches and banks allowed in one city.

Never mind the red lights that are ignored or the turns that are not signaled, I would be happy if I could find a single parking lot with less than five cars straddling a white line. It’s bad enough that the best movie theater and most new restaurants are on the opposite end of town than most residents; we shouldn’t have to risk our lives by sharing the road with bad drivers on the way there. If I could change one thing about Tyler, I would begin by reforming the drivers education system.

Availability of Alcohol

It is no secret that East Texans like to have a good time on Friday and Saturday night. We’ve all got a good alcohol story, and most of us have the scars to prove them. For those of us in Tyler, however, the stories sometimes involve the arduous process of simply obtaining the goods. As long as Smith County remains dry, thousands of us will continue making the trip to Lake Palestine or to Jacksonville.

Not only does this make party planning a royal pain, it also is dangerous. I fail to see how safety is improved by ensuring people spend more time on the road with a truck full of booze. I understand the law prohibits drinking and driving, but the fact is that some people have polished off a 12-pack by the time they make it home.

Closing Time

Have you ever wondered where you could find a good cup of coffee after 11 p.m.? How about a restaurant that serves until midnight? If you can never get enough of Whataburger or IHOP, you’re in luck. Unfortunately for the rest of us, that’s about where the options end.

I can’t count the number times I’ve craved unattainable food after leaving a party. Sometimes, I feel like I would pay $50 for a big plate of tacos. Often it seems the entire city becomes a vacant wasteland of unplugged neon signs just as the night is getting started.

Local Culture

Some of the things I like best about Tyler I enjoy because they are unique. Jucy’s Hamburgers and Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Que, for example, offer dishes I can’t find anywhere else. I would love to see more independent coffee shops and record stores that give Tyler a hometown vibe. Instead, we have four Starbucks and countless big-box retailers that offer the same experience to residents in thousands of other cities.

More Live Music Venues

Sure, venues like Click’s Live, The Oil Palace and Electric Cowboy can be fun, but they’re not enough. Without more opportunities to play for a live audience, Tyler’s budding music scene will never reach its potential. For most bands, live shows generate more cash and publicity than any other promotion.  More stages could mean greater success for the local bands and artists trying to make a name for themselves.

Larger venues also could attract big-name bands that typically skip East Texas in favor of Dallas, Houston or Austin. With a local college population of almost 20,000 students, it’s easy to see the potential for revenue.