About Tulsa, Oklahoma
Facts, Trivia and useful information
Elevation: 722 ft. (220 m). Population: 391,906 (2010).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).
Tulsa is the second-largest city in the State of Oklahoma and 47th-most populous city in the United States. It is the county seat of Tulsa county. The Metropolitan Area of Tulsa had over 960,000 residents and spans Osage, Rogers, Wagoner and Tulsa counties. Its motto is: "A New Kind of Energy" and its nicknames are "Oil Capital of the World", "Tulsey Town" and "T-Town".
This part of America has been inhabited for over 10,000 years. The Native American people were hunters and gatherers. The Spanish explored the region in the mid 1500s and the French fur traders did so during the late 1700s as they explored the Arkansas River upstream in what wast then the French Louisiana.
After the US purchase of Louisiana in 1803, Oklahoma remained a remote area and was later designated as Indian Territory, for the relocation of Native Americans, removed from their tribal lands in the East.
The Osage had settled in what is now Osage county, Oklahoma by the mid 1700s. But they had to cede their claim to that land to the US government who in turn gave it to the Cherokee Nation that it was forcing to relocate in Oklahoma. The Osage returned to Oklahoma and repurchased 1.57 million acres (6.400 km2) of their former land from the Cherokee. It became a reservation on 1875, this territory is just northwest of Tulsa.
The Creek tribe lived in Georgia and traded with the British colony. After American independence, the new state of Georgia forced them to cede lands through a series of treaties between 1790 and 1805.
Discontent among the Creek led to the Red Stick War (1814) and even more land cessions (1825). Finally the Federal Government signed a treaty relocating them in the Indian Territory, which would later become Oklahoma (1832), and they were forcibly expelled in 1836 from Georgia and Alabama.
The Lochapoka Band of Creek Indians settled in what is now Tulsa in 1828-36, and their village was located in what today is Cheyenne Ave. and 18th St., under an oak tree, the "Creek Council Oak Tree".
The Name Tulsa
It is the name that the Creek Indians gave to the village they established there in 1838; it was called "Tallasi" or "Tulasi" which means "old town" in Creek Language.
The same word is the origin of the name of Tallahassee in Florida
A U.S. Army party explored the area in 1832, camping in what is now Washington Irving Park (after the famous writer who accompanied the party).
Lewis Perryman set up a trading post in the village in 1846, he was part Creek. The town grew with cattle trading and a post office was opened in 1879 and one of Lewis' sons was postmaster.
The Atlantic and Pacific Railroad which would later become the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway reached Tulsa in 1882.
The African American community in the Greenwood neighborhood was prosperous and peaceful, but the "Tulsa Race Riot" of May 31 and June 1, 1921 saw civil disorder and whites attacking blacks. The official toll was 39 dead (23 of them blacks), but the actual figure was closer to 300 dead (mostly black). 35 city blocks were burned and 10,000 people left homeless.
Tulsa was incorporated in 1898. And the first oil well (Sue Bland N°1) was drilled in 1901, opening the oil-boom, population began to grow (from 1,390 to 141,258 residents between 1900 and 1930). By 1917, Tulsa called itself "The Oil Capital of the World" in 1917, and oil drove its economy.
Route 66 was aligned through the town in 1926, promoted by a local businessman, Cyrus Avery, known as "The Father of Route 66" who was part of the Committee that drew its alignment.
Oil wealth helped the town weather the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, which hit the nation and Oklahoma hard.
After World War II, Route 66 became saturated, it was also unsafe so Oklahoma built the Turner and the Will Rogers Turnpikes linking Oklahoma City to Joplin, Missouri through Tulsa in 1957. The multi-lane highway bypassed the old segments of Route 66, but as they passed through Tulsa, they benefited its economy.
Where to Stay
There are several hotels in Tulsa
>> Book your Motels and Hotels in Tulsa
>> There are several RV campgrounds in the Tulsa area.
Weather in Tulsa
Tulsa has a temperate climate with rainfall concentrated during spring and summer, with occasional thunderstorms, hail and tornados.
The average high temperature in January is 48°F and the low is 27.5°F (8.9 and -2.5°C). In July the average high and low temperatures are 93.1 and 71.3°F (33.9 and 21.8°C). You can expect an average of 11 days per year with temperatures over 100°F (38°C).
Rainfall is 41 inches per year (1.041 mm) with most rain falling during May, June and Sept. There are 93 rainy days a year. Snow: 9.6 in. (24.3 cm) per year, between Nov. and March, the record: 29.6 inches in on e year.
Tornado Risk: Tulsa lies within the "Tornado Alley in Oklahoma and experiences some 10 Tornado watches every year. Read more about: the risk of Tornadoes on Route66.
Getting to Tulsa
Sapulpa and Oklahoma City are west, along Route 66 and I-44.
Map of Route 66 through Tulsa Oklahoma
Static Map showing Route 66 alignment through Tulsa, OK
Display Winslow Route 66 Map
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Route 66 itinerary to Tulsa
Route 66 in Oklahoma
Click to read the Full description of Route 66 across Oklahoma.
Below we detail the Old Alignments of Route 66 through Tulsa.
Tulsa, Oklahoma: Attractions & Sights
Things to Do and See
Tulsa has plenty of attractions: museums, historic vintage service stations, hotels and theaters, Art Deco buildings and a vibrant cultural life.
Historic Circle Theater
12 South Lewis, Tulsa, OK.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
The only remaining cinema of Route 66's golden age. Built in 1928 it was built on the original 1926-32 alignment of Route 66. The Circle Theater is now the Circle Cinema.
Circle Cinema Today, Chuck Foxen
Circle Theater was rescued from demolition and refurbished by the hard work of the Circle Cinema Foundation, and now thrives, with a neon sign that gives it back its early 1950s look.
One of 26 movie theaters in 1945, it is the sole survivor. It was built along the original 1926-1932 alignment of Route 66 as a two-story brick building with a sober design that also housed apartments above the theater. The building was known as the Chilton Building.
It screens a wide variety of movies as the non-profit Circle Cinema Foundation: documentaries, film festivals, films by filmmaking classes and local movies too. Learn more about the Foundation and the Cinema here: www.circlecinema
Historic Cicle Theater, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Art Deco Buildings
Art Deco in Tulsa
Oil wealth provided the funds for a surge of Art Deco buildings in Tulsa, which has one of the greatest collections of buildings in the US. Most of the buildings can be seen in the older downtown and midtown districts: Mid-Continent Tower, the Boston Avenue Methodist Church, and the Philtower are some examples.
The Tulsa Preservation Commission's website has a List of Art Deco Buildings, which among others, includes:
Art Deco Style
Art Deco style flourished between both World Wars (1914 - 1940). It was a symbol of wealth, luxury and elegance that adopted symmetry, rich colors and bold rectilinear geometric shapes to exalt the technological progress of the early twentieth century.
- Christ the King Church
- Cities Service Station
- 11th St. Arkansas River Bridge (see below)
- Mayo Motor Inn
- Tulsa Club Building
11th Street Arkansas River Bridge
Route 66 Arkansas River Bridge, Tulsa, OK.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
Built in 1916-17 this concrete bridge was the reason that Route 66 passed through Tulsa.
It is located between the Southwest Boulevard Bridge and Interstate 244 Bridge.
The first multi-span concrete bridge in Oklahoma, it was built in 1916-17 to link the town's western oil refining area with the east, across the Arkansas River.
It has 18 spans mounted on piers set in the river bed. It is 1,470 feet long and was 34 feet wide. It included a railrod track along its central part and one lane for traffic.
Cyrus Avery, as a county Commissioner was involved in the bridge project and, when he was appointed in 1924 as a member of the Associated Highways Association of America's Joint Board, he supported the layout of a U.S. Highway through Tulsa, linking Chicago to Los Angeles: Route 66.
The existing bridge was a key element to uphold Avery's position and the road was aligned through Tulsa.
The bridge was widened in 1934 to its current 52 feet 8 inches and a second bridge was built on the south side of the old one and linked to it with a single deck. The curb to curb width was now 40 feet.
Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza and Gateway Arch
It was closed in 1980 and listed as a Historic Place in 1996. The bridge was renamed as the "Cyrus Avery Route 66 Memorial Bridge" in 2004 and its eastern tip has two attractions:
East meets West
Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza. SW Blvd. and Riverside Dr.
The bronze sculpture 20 feet tall by 40 feet shows the Avery family in a 1926 Ford encountering an oil-cart. It is the work of Robert Summers and was dedicated in 2012.
Route 66 Gateway
Spanning SW Blvd. at Riverside Dr.
Next to the Cyrus Avery Centennial Olaza and the 11th St. Bridge, the gateway welcomes visitors traveling along Old Route 66 as they enter or leave Tulsa.
Vickery Phillips 66 Station
602 S. Elgin Ave. , Tulsa, OK.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
A cottage style Phillips 66 gasoline station built in 1931.
Vickery Phillips 66 Service Station, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Set on the southwestern corner of Elgin and Sixth St. it was built in 1931 using the typical cottage style that was characteristic of Phillips in those days (see other examples in McLean, Texas or Baxter Springs, Kansas).
The style is a "Cotswold Cottage" design, with a chimney, steep pitched roof, brick walls and a homey style which aimed at reassuring customers with an image of home and also helped them blend into a residential setting.
The service station was leased in 1939 to a private operator and by 1943 it was owned by V.W. Vickery who named it the "Victory V W Phillips 66" ("Victory" in a Second World War context was an eye-catcher).
With Route 66 realigned further south in the 1950s, and later I-44 taking most of the traffic, it finally closed in 1973, and was used as a paid parking lot. It was restored between 2006 and 2008 and is an Avis car rental facility.
Some Curious Attractions
Meadow Gold sign. Kevin
Meadow Gold Neon Sign
11th and Quaker Streets.
The Meadow Gold brand of milk and ice cream once belonged to Beatrice Food Company and was popular in the mid-western market in the years after World War II.
A sign with the brand name loomed over the intersection of Route 66 (Lewis Ave.) and 11th. Street since the mid 1940s until 2004, when the building where it was mounted was sold and demolished.
The new owner of the lot gifted the sign and its supporting structure to the city. It was dismantled and structurally restored to retain its vintage look.
It was set up again to greet visitors entering the city as it did in the past.
Praying Hands Sculpture, Joseph Novak
7777 South Lewis , Tulsa
Tulsa is known as the "buckle of the Bible Belt" and is the site of Oral Roberts University and the university's Prayer Tower.
At the entrance to campus is the statue of the "praying hands", which is 60 feet (18 m) tall and the largest bronze sculpture in the world, it was cast in Mexico in 1980.
There is another Route 66 sculpture of praying hands in Webb City, Missouri.
Golden Driller, 76 ft. tall. Greg McKinney
An Oklahoma State Monument
21st St. and Pittsburgh Ave. Tulsa County Fairgrounds.
The first Golden Driller was built for the 1953 International Petroleum Exposition as a symbol for the "Oil Capital of the World". It was such a success that it was used again in 1959.
Its owner and sponsor, the Mid-Continent Supply donated it to the Tulsa County Fairgrounds Trust Authority and built the current and permanent version for the 1966 Expo.
It is 76 ft. (23 m) tall and designed to withstand winds of up to 200 mph. It contains 2.5 miles of steel rods and mesh and is covered in concrete. Its hand rests on a real oil derrick.
It is said to be the largest free-standing statue in the world and weighs 43,500 lb.
See its Google Street View here.
Vintage and Historic Route 66 Sites
Sinclair Service Station
3501 East Eleventh, Tulsa
See a Street View
Built in 1929, it is a house with service bay station in Spanish Eclectic style typical of Sinclair, another example of "home-like" stations.
Casa Loma Hotel
2626-2648 East Eleventh, Tulsa
See a Street View
Built in 1927 if is a half-block along what was then Route 66. It housed a hotel on the second floor and commercial space at street level. It is an example of the Mission - Spanish Colonial Revival style.
Whittier Square Historic District
Between Lewis Ave., Zunis Ave., East First, & I-244, Tulsa
A seven-block area east of downtown which was the town's first suburban shopping center with over 100 businesses and Route 66 passing through it.
Phillips 66 Station
2224 East Admiral Boulevard, Tulsa
See a Street View
Cottage style station built in 1929. Garage and service bay were added in 1941.
Cities Service Station #8
1648 Southwest Boulevard, Tulsa
See a Street View
A 1926 building of an oblong box form, with clear lines and a functional design.
A choice of Museums
1400 North Gilcrease Museum Road, Tulsa OK.
Opened in 1949 and was created by collector and oilman Thomas Gilcrease (1890-1962), deeded to the city of Tulsa in 1955 it exhibits the world's largest collection of American West artifacts, Native American art and artifacts and historical documents and maps.
Tue. through Sun. 10 AM - 5 PM. (918) 596-2700. www.gilcrease.utulsa.edu.
Tulsa Historical Society & Museum
2445 South Peoria, Tulsa.
Eight exhibits that rotate yearly, with topics related to the local history.
Tue. through Sat. 10 AM - 4 pm. (918) 712-9484. www.tulsahistory.org
2727 South Rockford Road, Tulsa OK.
One of the top 50 US art museums, housed in a mansion with 23 acres of grounds, donated to the city of Tulsa in 1938 by the Waite Phillips family.
A satellite facilty was opened in 2013 in Tulsa's Brady Arts District with Native American and Modern and contemporary work.
Tue. through Sun. 10 AM - 5 PM. www.philbrook.org.
Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art
2021 East 71st Street, Tulsa OK.
It preserves remnants of the Holocaust and artifacts relevant to Judaism in Oklahoma, with the largest collection in the Southwestern USA.
Mon. through Fri. 10 AM - 5 PM, Sun. 1 PM - 5 PM. (918) 492-1818. www.jewishmuseum.net
Woody Guthrie Center
102 East Brady St., Tulsa OK.
Opened in 2013 in the Brady Arts District houses the work, personal items, life story and archives of Woody Guthrie (1912-1967). He was a native Oklahoman, and one of America's greatest folksingers and songwriters.
(918) 574-2710. woodyguthriecenter.org
The Tulsa Air and Space Museum
3624 North 74th East Avenue, Tulsa
A museum that preserves Oklahoma's aerospace heritage with a 17.8 acre site to the north of the Tulsa International Airport. It includes a Planetarium.
Museum: Tue. - Sat. 10 AM - 4 PM. Planetarium: same days, opens at 11 AM. (918) 834-9900. www.tulsaairandspacemuseum.org
Fun and Events
Brady Arts District
The Brady Arts District is located in one of the oldest parts of Tulsa, with many classic cultural icons (Cain's Ballrom and the Brady Theater). It is named after Brady Street, which runs through the heart of the district. It has two areas designated in the National Registry of Historic Places.
It has many bars, restaurants, clubs, galleries, museums as well as residences and cafes. A creative, bustling and culturally robust part of town. The city's film community hosts annual festivals such as the Tulsa United Film Festival and Tulsa Overground Film and Music Festival.
300 Aquarium Drive, Jenks
The Oklahoma Aquarium is located in Jenks, a suburb just southwest of Tulsa, Oklahoma. It is the only freestanding aquarium in Oklahoma.
One of the top 10 in the world according to USA Today. It provides authentic German food, drink, and fun: German beers, music, bratwurst and more.
Shalomfest and Tulsa State Fair
Enjoy the Shalomfest With a touch of Jewish charm. (www.templetulsa.com/shalomfest/) and the Tulsa State Fair (www.tulsastatefair.com), with 1 million visitors.
Tours & Itineraries
Nearby Route 66 Towns
US Highway 66
Historic Route 66 alignment
Learn more about alignment of Historic Route-66 through Oklahoma.
Old Alignments of Route 66 through Tulsa
The original 1926 alignment was the following: From Catoosa, along 193rd St. south, then a right onto 11th St., a right along Mingo Rd., a left along Admiral Place, a left onto Lewis and a right along 2nd, into the town. Then: Detroit, 7th, Cheyenne and 11th Street, to Maybelle and then across the 11th St. Bridge. On the western side of the River it followed Southwest Blvd. (in those days Quanah Ave.)
In 1932 it was west of Mingo Road along 11th St. to downtown.
In 1959, with the Interstate I-44, there were more changes: I-44 became the Route 66 and 11th St. was Bus. 66 until deleted in 1973.
National & State Parks
Redbud Valley Nature Preserve
North 161st East Avenue, 3.8 miles north of I-44 (Exit #237 is 161st East Ave.)
Managed by Nature conservancy and Oxley Nature Center, it preserves plants and animals unique to this area. Ideal for hiking and watching birds and animals. Restrooms, picnic tables and drinking water are available. Admission is Free.
Wed. through Sun. 8 AM - 5 PM. www.oxleynaturecenter.org/redbud.htm.
Arkansas River runs through the town, in a wide channel with flood control reservoirs. A permanent lake next to the downtown area is known as Zink Lake.
Tulsa has various forested parks (including the third largest municipal park in America, "Mohawk Park", and some hills like Turkey Mountain or Holmes Peak (the tallest point with 1,360 ft - 415 m).
In midtown Tulsa is also a botanical garden and has the Tulsa Municipal Rose Garden, with more than 6,000 rose plants in 250 varieties.
The River Parks Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area
68th and Elwood, Tulsa
South of Tulsa, on the west bank of the Arkansas River, only 7 miles from central Tulsa. It offers 45 miles of trails for hiking, running, mountain biking and horseback riding.
Vickery Phillips 66 Station-Route 66: A Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary, National Park Service.
Banner image: Dead Man's Curve, Laguna New Mexico by Perla Eichenblat.