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Tulsa - Route 66 (page 2)

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Downtown Tulsa is packed with classic Route 66 spots, from vintage motels to historic service stations and hotels, Don't miss the iconic neon signs and shields painted on the road. Below is a list of those found in downtown Tulsa and West of the Arkansas River:

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There are more attractions in Eastern Tulsa (page 1)

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All About Tulsa, Oklahoma - Page 2

Route 66 landmarks & attractions

Sights in Tulsa

Tulsa's Attractions

There are plenty of US 66 attractions in Downtown Tulsa and along the western side of the city: vintage service stations designated as historic places, classic motels and movie theaters. Enjoy de stylish Art Deco buildings and Tulsa's cultural life with exciting events and many museums.

Downtown Tulsa

Out of the list of hotels mentioned by Jack Rittenhouse in 1946, only a few have managed to survive and we will describe them below. The others (Bliss, Brady, Tulsa and Alvin have all been torn down).

It is a 5.7 mile round trip from Elgin and 11th Street: see this Map with Directions

Art Deco Buildings 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.

examples of art deco, Tulsa
Some Art Deco examples, Tulsa

The Tulsa Preservation Commission's website has a List of Art Deco Buildings, which among others, includes some of those that we describe in our tour.

Art Deco Style

Art Deco style also known as "moderne style" flourished between both World Wars (1914 - 1940). And became the predominant artistic style of the 1930s.

It influenced everything, from jewelry to book bindings to furniture, advertising and, of course, architecture.

Its name comes from the "L'Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes" held in Paris in 1925, where artists tried to blend our industrialized world with fine arts.

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. It shunned the curves and asymetrical art of the styles that preceded it.

It also included animals, stylized foliage, chevrons, zigzags, and other geometrical motifs as ornaments on Art Deco style buildings.

Drive along Elgin Ave north and on 6th St. to your left is a Historic Gas Station:

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

cottage style Vickery Phillips 66 Service Station
Vickery Phillips 66 Service Station, Tulsa.

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, and here in Tulsa, not far from here).

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.

Turn left into E 5th and on the corner of S. Detroit Avenue is an Art Deco Building:

Tulsa Club Building

Art Deco

115 E 5th St, Tulsa

This 11-story building was built 1927 by the Tulsa Club and the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce it was designed by architect Bruce Goff. Vacant for many yeaers and vandalized often, it is being renovated. See its street view with a closeup of its facade, windows and Art Deco style.

Now head west along 5th Street to see one of the Hotels mentioned by Rittenhouse in 1946:

Mayo Hotel

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places & Art Deco

115 W 5th St, Tulsa

Now a 4-star hotel once again, it was built as a 600-room hotel in 1925. George Winkler designed it in a Chicago School Art Deco style. Rittenhouse mentioned it.

It has Doric columns two stories high supporting the 14 floors above and the stone cornice.

Mayo Hotel in a vintage postcard

Mayo Hotel vintage postcard, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Mayo Hotel nowadays

Mayo Hotel vintage nowadays, Tulsa, Oklahoma. Click to enlarge

Drive around the block to see another Art Deco hotel mentioned by Rittenhouse:

Adams Hotel

Art Deco

4th St and Cheyenne Ave, Tulsa

The Adams Art Deco building with terra-cotta detailing was built as a luxury hotel in 1928. Later during the 1980s it became an office building and stood vacant until recently. Now it has been renovated into new apartments.

Its postcard pictured below says "Modern as Tomorrow... air conditioned rooms and Coffee Shop... Garage Facilities"

Vintage postcard of the Adams Hotel

Vintage postcard of the Adams Hotel, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

former Adams Hotel nowadays

current appearance of the former Adams Hotel. Click to enlarge

Just across from the hotel, on Cheyenne Avenue is a Classic Art Deco Garage:

Mayo Motor Inn

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places & Art Deco

416 South Cheyenne Ave. Tulsa

This garage pictured below, wasbuilt in 1950 was designed by Leon B. Senter & Associates. Its 15-foot high sign and the facade's crowning band of three bars are classic Art Deco.

Mayo Motor Inn in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Mayo Motor Inn Tulsa OK Route 66
Mayo Motor Inn in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Click to enlarge image

Drive east along 4th St. turn left on S. Detroit see the sign indicating the 1926 alignment to your right at the corner with E 2nd., and turn right along it. To your right on the corner is an iconic service station:

Blue Dome Service Station

E 2nd and S. Elgin Ave.Tulsa

It was said to have be inspired by the Haiga Sophia Church in Istambul (Church of the Holy Wisdom a cathedral built in Constantinople 532-37 AD by Byzantine emperor Justinian I).

This Blue Dome dates back to 1924 and was known as the White Star Gulf Oil Station, it was open 24 ⁄ 7 and teh station attendant lived inside the dome.

Blue Dome Service Station vintage postcard in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Blue Dome Service Station vintage postcard
Blue Dome Service Station vintage postcard in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Blue Dome Service Station nowadays in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Blue Dome Service Station nowadays
Blue Dome Service Station nowadays in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Click to enlarge image

Continue eastwards along E 2nd Street and ahead, on the NW corner of Kenosha is a 1960s gas station, now abandoned; this is its street view.

Continue east and 2nd is now cutoff by US-75 so head onto 1st Street and turn right on S. Norfolk Ave. to reach 2nd. You will see the "Historic Route 66 signs" marking the way on the corner (Street View).

Ahead to your left is a 1920s Gas Station:

Second Street Station

1402 E 2nd St. Tulsa

Second Street Station

Second Street Station, Tulsa, Oklahoma. Click to enlarge

This old brick station with a flat canopy over a now vacant pump island has two garage bays one on each side of the office. It is a 1920s building on what was Route 66 and later US 75 in Tulsa.

When you reach Slouth Lewis Avenue turn north and between Admiralty and 1st. is a Historic Movie Theater:

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 facade

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

Circle Cinema vintage photo
Historic Circle Cinema in 1953, Tulsa, Oklahoma

At the corner turn left on East Admiral Blvd. to visit a Historic Cottage Style Gas Station:

historic Phillips 66 Station #473

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

2224 East Admiral Boulevard, Tulsa

This cottage styled service station was built in 1929. It was known as the Phillips 66 Station #473, in 1941 it was expanded west, adding a service bay and garage.

historic Phillips 66 Station #473 in Tulsa, Oklahoma

historic Phillips 66 Station #473 Tulsa OK Route 66
historic Phillips 66 Station #473 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Click to enlarge image

This ends your "Downtown Tulsa Tour". Return to your starting point and here you can head to the Western side of Tulsa by taking 12th St.

Alternatively you can explore the Eastern side of town by heading east along 11th St.

Into Western Tulsa

Crossing the Arkansas River

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

Cyrus Avery Plaza and Gateway Arch Tulsa
From right to left: Gateway arch, Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza with the "East meets West" sculpture.
The 11th St. Bridge is out of view on the extreme left

Click on image for Street View

Refurbished Bridge

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:

1. 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.

2. 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.

Cross the Arkansas River leaving Downtown Tulsa behind and head west along the old Route 66 alignment on Southwest Boulevard into Western Tulsa.

After the bridge, comes a Historic gas station, to your right:

Cities Service Station #8

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

1648 Southwest Boulevard, Tulsa

It is located on what then was Quanah Avenue (renamed Southwest Boulevard in 1957). Before I-244, it had access from two other cross streets.

Cities Service Station #8 Historic gas station in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Cities Service Station #8 Historic gas station
Cities Service Station #8 Historic gas station in Tulsa, Oklahoma, click image to enlarge.

It is a typical "oblong box" style station that was in vogue between the 1930s and 50s. The two-bay garage was added to the original 1926 station in 1940 and then, the old office was demolished and replaced with the new office in the 50s, using large glass windows and the green trim that identified the Cities Service Co. brand.

Continue west, Route 66 passes US 75 and passes by the:

Route 66 Historical Village

3770 Southwest Blvd

To your right. See its Street View. It is an open air museum with some large artifacts. See the restored Frisco 4500 Steam Engine, a passenger car, a caboose and oil derrick that is 194 feet high.

Just ahead, the road curves under I-244 at Red Fork (W 41st St and S 25th Ave.). Here are some interesting landmarks:

Red Fork

4100 Southwest Blvd, Red Fork Tulsa

Two views of Route 66 in Red Fork: same buildings face the road on its eastern side:

photo of Red Fork buildings in 1940s

Red Fork 1940s photo, Tulsa.

photo of Red Fork buildings nowadays

Red Fork as it is today. Tulsa, Oklahoma. Click to enlarge

Ahead, to your left is an Old Texaco:

Old Texaco RedFork

4207 Southwest Blvd, Tulsa

This old Teague styled Texaco is now Mark Hill Auto Sales an auto dealer. It has a simple, clean and streamlined style with a box-shaped station with a flat canopy. The canopy has rounded corners and two ridge-like crests running across its top.

Old Texaco RedFork in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Old Texaco from 1930s in Red Fork Tulsa
Old Texaco RedFork in Tulsa. Click to enlarge image
Route 66 West Arch over roadway

Route 66 West Arch, Tulsa, Oklahoma. Click to enlarge

Just 200 yards west is the Archway:

Route 66 West Arch

It is an artistic arch celebrating Route 66 and Tulsa, with a Route 66 shield on its tip and the word "Tulsa", it is a symbolic arch, built in two pieces, one on each side of the highway.

Passing the arch, to your right is what was a motel's neon sign, now derelict.

Ahead at the junction of I-44 and I-244, are several motels, and also along I-44 towards the Arkansas River. To your right is the first motel:

Western Capri Motel

5320 Sapulpa Rd., Tulsa

Still open as a motel though it lost its great neon sign and the large canopy by the office. It has the same layout and appearance as you can see in the "Then and Now" sequence below. The postcard proclaimed "Ultra-Modern... Room temperature at your immediate control - Free TV".

Western Capri Motel postcard in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Western Capri Motel postcard Tulsa
Western Capri Motel postcard in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Western Capri Motel today in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Western Capri Motel nowadays
Western Capri Motel today in Tulsa. Click to enlarge image

New Frontier Motel

5510 West Skelly Dr., Tulsa

The old New Frontier Motel is still operating, but now is the Crystal Motel. Its postcard shown below says: "Located one quarter mile east of Turner shop - Diner's Club - family accommodations - 24 hour switchboard..."

New Frontier Motel (postcard 1950s) in Tulsa, Oklahoma

New Frontier Motel (postcard 1950s)
New Frontier Motel (postcard 1950s) in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

New Frontier Motel now the Crystal Motel in Tulsa, Oklahoma

former Frontier Motel now the Crystal Motel
New Frontier Motel now the Crystal Motel in Tulsa. Click to enlarge image

The "Now and Then" sequence of the motel (above) shows that the pool has gone and the sign has changed.

Former Skelly Oil

Former Skelly Oil

Former Skelly Oil, Tulsa, Oklahoma. Click to enlarge

In the New Frontier postcard, to the left you can see the sign of a Skelly Oil Company gas station (the white "S" on a black background), it is on the rectangular slab on the building's front. The building is still there, but the logo has gone. Now it is a radiator repair shop.

Next to it is the "Rest Inn", from the 1950s but we have not found information on it.

Next is the "Interstate Inn" (5554 S 48th W Ave, Tulsa) followed by the Gateway Inn (6600 West Skelley Drive, Tulsa).

Continue west and use West 55th Street to cross over the Freeway and return north along the eastern frontage road, West Skelley Drive, ahead at the junction of I-44 with I-244 to your right is a Classic Motel:

Sands Motel

5125 W Skelly Drive, Tulsa

The Sands Motel is still a motel, though now it is the Value Inn. Its postcard pictured below says: "One mile from Turner Turnpkie Gate... room climate control always at your fingertips... Continuous music at all times - Children's Playground... Tub and shower comb.... The classic neon sign has gone.

Sands Motel old postcard in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Sands Motel old postcard
Sands Motel old postcard in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Sands Motel present appearance in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Sands Motel as it is today
Sands Motel present appearance in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Click to enlarge image

One mile east along the southern frontage Road of I-44 (which was the 1959-73 Route 66), at at 1347 E Skelly Dr, Tulsa, is the Peoria Motel which was the "Valley Inn" in the 1960s and whose postcard proclaimed in 1961: "Tulsa's futuristic look at roadside living".

Your Tour through Tulsa ends here. Head south to visit the next town: Sapulpa.

Shields painted on the pavement

There are US 66 shields painted onto the road pavement in Tulsa. These are two of them:

A choice of Museums

Gilcrease Museum

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.

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.

Philbrook Museum

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Oklahoma Aquarium

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.

Tulsa Oktoberfest

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. ( and the Tulsa State Fair (, with 1 million visitors.

Tours & Itineraries

Nearby Route 66 Towns

Visit the nearby towns of Claremore to the east and Sapulpa to the west, with their classic Route 66 landmarks.

Natural Attractions

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.

Municipal Parks

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).

Woodward Park

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.

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Go to Eastern Tulsa

In the Previous Page you'll find Eastern Tulsa's attractions and an overview of the city:

Tulsa Page 1

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Jack DeVere Rittenhouse, (1946). A Guide Book to Highway 66.
Vickery Phillips 66 Station-Route 66: A Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary, National Park Service.
East Meets West and Memorial Bridge, Vision 2025, Tulsa
Banner image: Hackberry General Store, Hackberry, Arizona by Perla Eichenblat.

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