The Historical And Cultural Attractions Of Tulsa, Oklahoma
The history of Tulsa is rooted in one of the richest oil booms in the United States. The city’s early economic success was followed by a decrease in the late 1940s, but it has seen periods of continued prosperity since then. With its unique culture and multitude of attractions, Tulsa continues to attract travelers from all over the world.
Tulsa’s early history as a city is an interesting one and largely revolves around oil. Henry and George Wilcox founded the city in 1866, naming it after their hometown of Tulsa in Oklahoma. The city was incorporated in 1884 with 239 residents, only one of whom was black. The oil boom after World War Two saw Tulsa’s population increase dramatically. As more people moved to the area, they flocked to “Little Tulsa” on St. Francis Avenue, which became known for its strip clubs and gambling parlors (beer halls) that thrived until the early 1950s.
Today, the Tulsa race riots of 1921 are still taught in Oklahoma schools. In one night, angry white rioters went on a rampage through the city. As many as eight hundred African Americans were killed and more than seven thousand were injured. The riots forced blacks to flee Tulsa, leaving it to white immigrants from around the country. Over the following quarter-century, many of these immigrants became wealthy business owners in Tulsa’s thriving oil industry.
Over time, Tulsa has been home to numerous significant American figures, including sportsmen and sportswomen such as Joe Louis and Roger Maris; musical greats like Hank Williams and Jimmie Rodgers; business magnates like Henry Frick and H. Ross Perot Sr. (who founded EDS); and the nation’s first female sheriff, Bertha B. Henley.
Today, Tulsa is known as much for its cultural attractions as it is for its history. Art Deco treasures are scattered around the city, including the Williams Center in South Tulsa and Philcade on Main Street. Stately mansions from the city’s heyday are found throughout the area as are distinctive and colorful old-town homes.
Tulsa’s cultural offerings also include The Tulsa Ballet Company and Tulsa Opera, both of which offer wonderful theater experiences. In addition, Tulsa has two major symphony orchestras and a host of other musical ensembles to round out its cultural scene. The Gem Theater offers an intimate theatrical experience for those who want to be closer to their favorite performers.
A popular attraction is the River Parks, which stretches for more than five miles along the Arkansas River trail system. These parks are divided into distinct areas, each of which contains a different kind of natural habitat. Some of these areas are lush and green while others are dry and barren. This diversity is part of what makes the Tulsa River Parks so interesting to visitors.
Tulsa’s thriving arts community includes museums such as the Gilcrease, Gilcrease Art Museum and the Stoddard Gallery as well as restaurants serving fine food and unique drinks such as The Musket Room or Mikey’s Wine Dive. Many of these restaurants feature live entertainment that can be enjoyed on any given night.
Another popular attraction for those who are interested in its history is, of course, the Will Rogers Memorial Center. Located at 31st and Peoria streets, this is where the famous comedian and actor grew up and got started in show business. The center hosts a variety of events year-round, from concerts to lectures and just about everything in between.
For those needing relaxation after a long day of activity, Tulsa’s many spas are excellent choices. Among the best known are Southside Health Club and Spa on the south side (with an indoor swimming pool as well) or Creek Street Spa and Sauna just off Riverside Drive on the west side of town.
Despite its history, Tulsa’s sights are anything but traditional. There are few cities in the United States that can boast such a diverse array of exciting attractions. Anyone who visits can expect to have a nice time and be entertained at every turn. Tulsa is truly one of a kind and worth the drive to see for yourself.