Tulsa, Oklahoma, (population 400,000), was originally established in the early 1800s to accommodate the forced relocation of such Native American tribes as the Cherokee, Muscogee (Creek), and Seminole. The Lochapoka Creek named their settlement “Tulasi,” or “old town.”

A rugged frontier for half a century, “Tulsey Town” had grown into a trading post and cattle town by the time the railroad arrived in 1882. The city incorporated in 1898, but the change from cow-town to boomtown happened with the discovery of oil in 1901 at nearby Red Fork. Wildcatters and investors flooded the city, and neighborhoods grew.

The men and women who made their fortunes in the massive Glenn Pool Oil Strike of 1905 and the Cushing strike of 1912 built their homes in Maple Ridge, once known as “Black Gold Row.” This was the first Tulsa neighborhood listed on the State Landmarks Inventory, and it is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. These early oil barons also built the nation’s third largest collection of art deco buildings, after Miami Beach and New York.

Tulsa’s economy expanded to encompass the aviation and defense industries, and the city continued to spread out during the second half of the 20th century. During the 1980s, Tulsa embraced the telecommunications industry, only to be hurt by its bust in 2000. Today, Tulsa is working to diversify its job base and revitalize its core.

Tulsa offers tours of its art deco buildings, historic neighborhoods, African American history, and oil industry icons. The Tulsa Foundation for Architecture also hosts tours of grand skyscrapers and homes associated with early Tulsa oil barons, as well as Route 66, which was conceived by Tulsa businessman Cyrus Avery in the 1920s. The Philtower Building, a Tulsa icon since 1927, was recently renovated with local government support in a pioneer loft-conversion project.

Designated a Preserve America Community in December 2007.

For more information

Tulsa Preservation Commission

Tulsa Historical Society

Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary: Route 66