KEY Tulsa
Key Cover
The current issue is available in:
HTML | PDF | Flippable eMagazine

TULSA. Proud History. Bright Future.

What was to ultimately become Tulsa was part of Indian Territory, which was created as part of the relocation of the Five Civilized Tribes– the Choctaw, Cherokee, Muscogee(Creek), Chickasaw, and Seminole peoples. These Native American tribes moved into the region after the passage of the Indian Removal Act of 1830, when they were forced to surrender their lands east of the Mississippi River to the federal government in exchange for land in Indian Territory.

The city now known as Tulsa was first settled by the Lochapoka (Turtle Clan) Muscogee (Creek) between 1828 and 1836. Driven from their native Alabama, the Lochapokas established their new settlement "Tulasi," meaning "old town" in their native language.

In 1882, the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad completed the extension of its line to Tulsa from the town of Vinita to serve the cattle business, the city's first industry. Brothers James and Harry Hall, who had operated the railway's company store in Vinita chose the point at which the railroad stopped. James, who would later be referred to as the 'Father of Tulsa,' marked off Tulsa's first streets, built its first permanent store, organized its first church, school, and government.

Tulsa changed from a small frontier town to a boomtown with the discovery of oil in 1901 at Red Fork, on the opposite side of the Arkansas River. Wildcatters and investors flooded into the city and the town began to take shape. Neighborhoods were established in Tulsa on the opposite side of the Arkansas River from the drilling sites, and began to spread out from downtown Tulsa.

In 1904, Tulsans constructed a bridge across the river, allowing oil field workers, supplies, food and equipment to cross the river, reaffirming Tulsa's position as the center of the oil field. Within a year the Glenn Pool oil field was discovered. This strike created such a large supply of crude oil that it forced Tulsans to develop storage tanks for the excess oil and gas and, later, pipelines. It also laid the foundation for Tulsa to become a leader in many businesses related to oil and gas. Many early oil companies chose Tulsa for their home base.

High rise buildings began to appear downtown during this decade. The16-story Cosden Building was constructed in 1918, and is considered the first skyscraper in Tulsa. It was later acquired by Mid Continent Oil Company, who built an adjacent tower integrated with the older structure, now called the Mid-Continent Tower.

The second surge of oil discoveries occurred between 1915 and 1930, and firmly established Tulsa as the "Oil Capital of the World". Wealthy oilmen such as Waite Phillips, William G. Skelly and J. Paul Getty built stately mansions and beautiful modern headquarters. The prevalence of the Art Deco style of architecture during this period resulted in a treasure trove of beautiful structures. In 1932, Waite Phillips donated his exquisite Italianate mansion "Philbrook" to the city of Tulsa for use as an art museum

Another community that flourished in Tulsa during the early oil booms was Greenwood. It was the largest and wealthiest of Oklahoma's African American communities and was known nationally as "Black Wall Street". The neighborhood was a hotbed of jazz and blues in the 1920s. The scene in Greenwood was so hot that story has it that in 1927 while on tour, Count Basie heard a dance band in a club in Greenwood and decided to focus on jazz.

The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 was one of the nation's worst acts of racial violence and large-scale civil disorder. On May 31, during 16 hours of rioting, 39 people were killed, over 800 people injured, an estimated 10,000 were left homeless, 35 city blocks with more than 1,200 residences were destroyed by fire, and $1.8 million (nearly $17 million after adjustment for inflation) in property damage. Confined mainly to the segregated Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, the riot was responsible for wiping out nearly all of the prosperity and success that Black Wall Street had achieved to that time, although the neighborhood had rebuilt within a few years and flourished until the 1960s.

For the majority of Tulsans, the mid 20th Century proved a time of continuing prosperity. The wealth generated by the early oil industry also helped Tulsa become a leader in the aviation industry. During WWII, the Spartan School of Aeronautics was a training site for hundreds of allied pilots and in 1942, Douglas Aircraft built its mile-long Air Force Plant No. 3 to build bombers. Following the war, Tulsa became an important maintenance center for American Airlines and many aviation related businesses developed alongside.

Tulsa was the first major Oklahoma city to begin an urban renewal program. One of the first major urban renewal projects was the Williams Center. The most notable feature of this project is the BOK Tower (originally named One Williams Center). This required the clearing of several blocks in downtown Tulsa near the Frisco railroad tracks as a result many of the oldest buildings in the city were razed. The only pre-1910 building remaining in downtown Tulsa is the Pierce Block at Third and Detroit.

The "Oil Bust" of 1982 allowed the title of "Oil Capital of the World" to be relinquished to Houston. City leaders worked to diversify the city away from a largely petroleum-based economy to Internet and telecommunications firms and enhancing the already important aviation industry. Showing that
petroleum is still an important player, an abundant supply of natural gas also helped with recovery.

Today, Tulsa boasts an eclectic mix known nowhere else. One of big city extravagance and small town charm. Cosmopolitan arts like the Tulsa Ballet, Tulsa Opera, Tulsa Performing Arts Center and Tulsa Symphony Orchestra collide with the classic cowboy charisma found in the infamous Cain’s Ballroom, the historical Gilcrease Museum, and world-renowned horse shows like the Palomino World Championships and the Breeder’s Invitational.

Unexpected treasures are found at every corner. State-of-the-art facilities like the BOK Center and ONEOK Field stand side-by-side with the rejuvenated high-rise buildings like the Mayo Hotel. Built during the height of Tulsa’s oil boom era, the Mayo Hotel is one of many Art Deco-style architectural gems that still stand in Tulsa today, offering a glimpse of Tulsa’s rich oil heritage.

Premier attractions like the Tulsa Zoo and Living Museum, the Oklahoma Aquarium, and the Tulsa Air & Space Museum and Planetarium are a destination for all ages with interesting creatures and learning
experiences sure to excite and educate young and old alike.

Visitors will appreciate the unique shopping districts like Utica Square; festivals like Mayfest and Oktoberfest; fine dining; gaming; horse racing; outdoor trails like River Parks for hiking, biking or running; gardens; nightlife in the Blue Dome, Brady Arts Districts, Brookside, and Cherry Street.

Just about everywhere you turn in this dynamic city, you’ll find a renaissance spirit — to renovate, reinvent, revitalize and restore. Newness and change are ongoing, but the city respects and holds dear its historic landmarks.

Welcome to Tulsa!

Copyright 2000-2017 KEY of Oklahoma, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form, including electronic and photocopy, without the permission in writing from the publisher. All ads designed by Tulsa KEY Magazine may not be reproduced for publication
elsewhere. Distributed monthly to hotels, motels and other distribution points in Tulsa, Broken Arrow, Jenks and statewide at Tourist Information Centers.

Subscription rate: $40 per year, first class mail. Single copies mailed at $3.95 each. Bulk orders filled at no cost to conventions and special groups.

Tulsa KEY Magazine is a registered trademark. This magazine is authorized by KEY Magazines, Inc., a national chain of visitor publications located in Arizona, Carmel/Monterey, Chicago, Cincinnati, Colorado, Dallas, Fort Worth, Memphis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Palm Springs. Affiliates: Boston Panorama, Florida See Magazines, This Month in Houston, Today in Las Vegas, New York City Guide, Pittsburgh Point, This Week in San Diego.

This website designed, hosted and maintained for KEY of Tulsa by
IMT Inc.
...when it's time to establish an Internet presence.