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 Hotel in Tulsa
Lodging Near Tulsa
Accommodation Search box:
>> There are several RV campgrounds in the Tulsa area.
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
Map of Route 66 through Tulsa Oklahoma
Display Tulsa Route 66 Map
Click Map will appear below
The map above shows US 66 alignment through Tulsa, the color key For Tulsa only is the following:
(for the other parts of the map, check the color key of the map of the corresponding city)
Pale Blue: US 66 in Tulsa.
Orange line is the 1926 to 1932 Route 66.
Black is where the road is now cut and cannot be driven.
Blue is the dead-end on 11th that used to link with the Arkansas Bridge.
Route 66's alignment in Oklahoma: the Historic Route 66 through Tulsa
Route 66 in Oklahoma
Click to read the Full description of Route 66 across Oklahoma.
Read below for more information on Route 66's alignment in Tulsa.
Route 66 landmarks & attractions
Sights in Tulsa
Tulsa has plenty of attractions: museums, historic vintage service stations, hotels and theaters, Art Deco buildings and a vibrant cultural life.
Historic Context Route 66 in Tulsa: 1946
Jack DeVere Rittenhouse wrote about Tulsa in his classic "Guide Book to Highway 66", which he published in 1946 after driving Route 66 all the way from Chicago to Los Angeles. It gives us an idea of what it was like in Tulsa during US-66's heyday.
Rittenhouse tells us that 15 miles east of Tulsa US66 and OK-33 intersected, and there were cabins, garage and gas at that point. One mile ahead the road turned sharply west and two miles west, ran through Lynn Lane (a small community) with "several gas stations, a small garage and general homes. KVO court here".
In Tulsa Rittenhouse mentions "Several hotels including: Adams, Alvin, Bliss, Bradford, Cadillac, Corona, Tulsa, Mayo, Mercer, Oklahoma, Plaza, Seneca and Wells; courts include: Cook's, Park Plaza, Achor, Baker's, Blue Jay, Campbell's, El Reposo, Mid-Way, Rio, Shady-Rest, Tulsa, Whitt, Will rogers, Grotto". On the west side of town he mentions Howard Park and the suburb of "Red Fork" he comments that the road into Sapulpa is "flanked with a constant succession of... tourist courts, garages, gas stations, etc."
Drive through Tulsa on Route 66
Coming from Catoosa, drive south along 193rd Street and then take a sharp right turn along E 11th Street. Ahead to your right is an old Gas Station
Stone faced Gas Station
17501 E 11th St., Tulsa
This old gas station has seen better days. Its gabled canopy stands over the now empty pump islands and the broken sign is rusting away.
Stone faced Gas Station in Tulsa, Oklahoma
You are in Lynn Lane and here is the KVO court mentioned by Rittenhouse, to your right just west of S 157th Ave:
K.V.O. Modern Courts
15606 E 11th St. Tulsa, Tulsa
The postcard tells us that "E.F. Schmidt Proprietor, Reasonable Rates, 5 1⁄2 miles east of Tulsa".The stone buildings are as they appear in the postcard below. The trees of course have grown since the 1940s. But the roof shape and disposition of the double doors on the cabin is the same:
K.V.O. Modern Courts today in Tulsa, Oklahoma
K.V.O. Modern Courts detail from 1940s postcard in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Keep west, for 3 miles and after passing the freeway, to your right is a Classic Motel:
11017 E 11th St, Tulsa
This motel now closed, has a classic neon sign and an appealing cottage styled office.
Brookshire Motel in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Continue westwards to the next "Motel":
Saratoga Motor Hotel
10117 E 11th St., Tulsa
The Saratoga "Motor Hotel" (what we now call a motel) had 85 rooms with a 24-hour Resturant, Circulating Ice Water, Continuous Hi-Fi Music and Radio, Large, Heated Pool and 1-Day Laundry Service. Credit Cards Honored and Free Airport Transportation.
Now it is the America's Value Inn and the original neon sign is still there though redesigned (yellow triangle and star gone) vertical "motel" letters with text in them, the "L" gone. And the upper green sign's shape has been modified.
Saratoga Motor Hotel vintage Postcard in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Saratoga Motor Hotel nowadays in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Route 66 signage at Mingo Road, Tulsa, Oklahoma. Click to enlarge
Signs at Mingo Road and Interpretative Plaza
9701 E 11th St.
In the median strip of 11th Street at Mingo Rd. there is a sign marking the 1926-32 alignment (right along Mingo "Greenway"), the 1933-73 alignment (straight ahead on 11th St.) and to the left an arrow pointing towards the "Interpretative Plaza" (with parking space and some plaques and markers with information).
Side Trip to the 1926-32 Alignment
Take a 5.1 mile side trip (round trip) to visit Two Classic Sights on the first alignment of Route 66 in Tulsa. This is the Map with Directions.
Turn right along Mingo Rd. and head west at the roundabout on Admiralty Pl. to visit Hank's Hamburgers:
8933 E Admiral Place Tulsa
Located on the north side of the road, it has been serving ham burgers, malsts and shakes since 1949. Even though in those days Route 66 had moved south to 11th St., it catered to locals and customers driving down US 75 or OK-33 into Tulsa.
Hank’s Hamburgers in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Turn right at Memorial Dr., cross the freeway and turn left at Easton St. to see a unique Drive-in theater:
Admiral Twin Drive-In
Route 66 Roadside Attraction
7355 E Easton St, Tulsa
It was built in 1951 and is one of the few drive-in theaters that have survived in Oklahoma.
With a capacity for more than 1,000 cars it is the largest drive-in theater in the state. It has a dual 9-story pair of screens. This is its Street view.
Now turn around and head back to 11th and Mingo, turn right and head west into Tulsa along the 1933-73 Route 66.
Again on 11th Street into Tulsa
Oasis Motel Neon Sign today, Tulsa, Oklahoma. Click to enlarge
Former Service Station
9347 E 11th St, Tulsa
To your right is a liquor store "Mad Dog Liquors" which used to be a Gas station, It still has a canopy over the concrete base that once had gas pumps. See its Street View.
Just ahead, also to your right is a Classic Motel and Neon Sign:
Classic Neon Sign
9303 E 11th St, Tulsa
The postcard below, postmarked in 1962, tells us that it had "Swimming pool - Room Phones - Room Coffee Service - Lounge".
It has a great neon sign which, rather suprisingly is very different to the original one as you can see in the "Now and Then" sequence below.
Usually the modern sign is uglier than the original one, in this case it is the opposite. There was a pool in the front lawn, which has now gone.
The sign is a googie style favored in the early 1960s, so it probably replaced the original one at that time. The "boomerang" on the sign is great. See a Closeup of previous sign
Oasis Motel nowadays in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Oasis Motel old postcard in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Sheridan Hills Motel
6302 E 11th St, Tulsa
The current Super 11 Inn used to be the Sheridan. Its postcard tells us that it had all the comforts a traveler needed: "East edge of Tulsa York Air-Conditioning - Thermostat Heat control - Wall-to-wall Carpets - Tile Baths - TV's". Below is its "Now and Then" sequence:
Changed but still there; it lost its neon sign.
Sheridan Hills Motel 1950s postcard in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Sheridan Hills Motel current appearance in Tulsa, Oklahoma
5915 E 11th Tulsa
The old Flamingo Motel is now the Western Inn. The postcard below tells us that it was "On U.S. 66, 10 minutes from downtown Tulsa, Oil Capital of the World. Phone TE 5-7647. A first class motel. Room phones, free television and radios, Refrigerated air conditioning - wall-to-wall carpeting, Tub Combination Tile bath, and lots of Hospitality. Visit the Gilcrease Indian Museum, Nationally famous. Heated swimming pool - new restaurant serving fine food, one block. AAA Approved".
It's classic neon sign is gone (it was blown down in a storm) and the pool has been filled in.
Flamingo Motel in a postcard in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Flamingo Motel nowadays in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Continuing into Tulsa, to your left is a Great Neon Sign at a Classic Motel:
5220 E 11th St, Tulsa
The hotel is still operating and has a fantastic neon sign. Its postcard pictured in the "Now and Then" sequence below announced: that it had "50 beautiful units... Free morning cofee served in Lobby - Fine Restaurants within walking distance"
Desert Hills in an old postcard in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Viewed from the same angle: the pool seen beyond the sign is gone and the canopy is now shorter.
Desert Hills nowadays in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Turn south on Yale Ave., see this Map with Directions for a short 3 mile round-trip to see a Example of Americana and Kitsch:
Golden Driller, 76 ft. tall. Greg McKinney
An Oklahoma State Monument: Americana and Kitsch
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.
Retrace your steps and head west along Route 66 or add another round trip (16 miles - see this Map with Directions) to visit the "Praying Hands".
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.
Back to Eleventh Street...
Once you finish the side trip, return to Yale and 11th Street, turn west and continue your journey into Tulsa.
Great Classic Neon Sign
Classic Neon Sign, Tulsa, Oklahoma. Click to enlarge
4507 E 11th St. Tulsa
Very probably a motel sign repurposed to serve as a used car dealership signIt has two slanted steel supports crossed by a red arrow and a yellow "boomerang" with two green bands linking them together. A 1950s design.
Sinclair Service Station
listed in the National Register of Historic Places
3501 East 11th St, Tulsa
Now restored and serving as the offices of Rossi Brothers, this station pictured below was built in 1929, it is a house with service bay station in Spanish Eclectic style typical of Sinclair, another example of "home-like" stations built to blend in with an urban setting. It is contemporary with the "Tudor Revival Cottage" styled gas stations -favored by Phillips and Conoco (there are two of these "cottage" stations in Tulsa).
Just two blocks west, on the SE corner of Harvard is a Cottage style station:
Former Cottage Station
1107 Harvard Ave. Tulsa
To your left, on this former cottage styule gas station now a Vape Away, is located on a strategic corner, at Harvard and Route 66 (3300 block of 11th St.) The design was used by Phillips during the 1930s. It is pictured above.
Casa Loma now Campbell Hotel, Tulsa, Oklahoma. Click to enlarge
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
2636 East 11th St. Tulsa
Built in 1927 if is a half-block along what was then Route 66. It housed the "Casa Loma Hotel" on the second floor and commercial space at street level. It is an example of the Mission - Spanish Colonial Revival style.
For many years it was the "only hotel" east of town. Now it has been restored and is once again a hotel: Campbell Hotel.
> > You can Book a Room in the Campbell Hotel
Tulsa Monument Company Building
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places - Art Deco
1735 East 11th St, Tulsa
Built in 1936 the Tulsa Monument Company Building is a good example of Art Deco style architecture. It has a symmetrical facade, a rectilinear geometry with its triple banded pillar caps (known as the "3-Bar Modern" style) and the gray trim contrasting with the white plaster concrete. It was designed by Harry Mahler to look like a monument (hence its name).
Tulsa Monument Company Building in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Old Cities Service Gas Station
1502 E 11th St. Tulsa
Former Cities Service Gas Station from 1933 designed in Art Deco style by M. Pettinghill on a corner location (to your left), with a two bay garage and a glassed office. No canopy. It is pictured below (green building).
Across the street to your right (1347 E 11th St.) is yet another former gas station (see its Street View). Followed to your left by a Classic Neon Sign:
Meadow Gold Neon Sign
1300 block of 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 Lewis Ave. and 11th. From 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 a few blocks to the west.
Meadow Gold Neon Sign in Tulsa, Oklahoma
At the next corner, to your right is an Art Deco former gas station:
An Art Deco Gas Station
1303 E 11th St. Tulsa
Pictured above, this former 3-bay garage gas station nowadays is "The Wrench Automotive Service", an auto repair shop. The classic lines of the rectangular building are clearly Art Deco: black tiles on the lower part of its facade, glass brick windows, a "3-Bar frieze" on the upper part of the facade.
Passing US-75 at the roundabout is another Art Deco building:
Warehouse Market Building
Art Deco Warehouse Market Building, Tulsa, Oklahoma. Click to enlarge
401 E 11th St, Tulsa
On the NE corner of South Elgin and 11th St., this one-story building (pictured below) with a terracotta tower was designed by B. G. Noftsger and constructed in 1929.
It served as the main grocery supply for Tulsa during the 1930s and was known as "The Farmer's Market". The decorations include two medalions beside its entrance, placed on large blue panels. The building's facade has been preserved.
At this point you have two choices (you can do them both in the sequence you prefer):
- Head west, leaving the downtown district and crossing the Arkansas River heading west into Western Tulsa
- Visit the sights in Dowtown Tulsa
We decribe both options below:
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.
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
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
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:
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.
> > You can Book a Room in the Mayo Hotel
Drive around the block to see another Art Deco hotel mentioned by Rittenhouse:
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"
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
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 nowadays in Tulsa, Oklahoma
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, 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 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
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
Return to your starting point and here you can head western side of Tulsa along 12th St.:
Into Western Tulsa
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.
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
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:
4100 Southwest Blvd, Red Fork Tulsa
Two views of Route 66 in Red Fork: same buildings face the road on its eastern side:
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
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 today in Tulsa, Oklahoma
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 Turnpike...coffee shop - Diner's Club - family accommodations - 24 hour switchboard..."
New Frontier Motel (postcard 1950s) in Tulsa, Oklahoma
New Frontier Motel now the Crystal Motel in Tulsa, Oklahoma
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, 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:
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 present appearance in Tulsa, Oklahoma
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 Sapulpa.
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.
Summary of the 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.
West of Catoosa
From 1926 to 1957 US 66 ran along Cherokee from Catoosa and then south along 193 rd St. to E 11ts St. where it turned sharply west.
In 1957 the four-lane Route 66 south of Antry was completed so the road moved onto it.
The Will Rogers Turnpike opened in 1958 and Route 66 was aligned with it (and US 412) west of 193rd St, into Tulsa.
Between 1926 and 1959 US 66 ran along 11th St upt o Mingo Rd. where it turned right (north) and then left (west) to run along Admiral Place. Orange line in the map.
In 1933 it was realigned along 11th St. all the way into Tulsa and remained so until 1959 when it moved to I-44. The 11th St. road became Bus. 66 from 1959 to 1973.
The 1926 alignment turned south on Lewis Ave and entered Tulsa along 2nd St. After 1932 it became the course of US 75 which turned south at Lewis Ave. and split into an eastbound lane along 1st St. and a westbound one on 2nd St.
Now E 2nd is cut by I-75. On the western side of modern I-75 the 1926-32 alignment followed E 2nd St., Detroit, 7th St., Cheyenne and 11th St., where it turned west until Maybelle Ave. to cross the Arkansas River along the 1916 concrete Arch Bridge. Orange line.
After 1932, Route 66 entered town from the east along 11th St., at the downtown area followed 10th and 11th and crossed the bridge across the Arkansas River at Maybelle Ave.
Nowadays this link between 11th and the bridge is interrupted by the interchange between I-244 and I-75 which erased Maybelle Ave. This is marked in Blue in the map. So westbound travellers take 12th St. after crossing S. Denver Ave. (Pale Blue in the map).
West of the Arkansas River
1926 to 1951: US 66 turned sharply south along Quanah Ave., current Southwest Blvd. which curved with a SW course becoming Sapulpa Rd. It went through Red Fork (at W 41st St.) and curved along Southwest Blvd. and Frankoma Rd. through Oakhurst.
In 1951 it ran next to the Turner Turnpike along what is now OK-66 (New Sapulpa Rd.) meeting the older alignment at what is now I-244's Exit 1.
In 1959 it shifted to I-44 at its Exit 223.
The Turner Turnpike began at whiat is now Exit 221 of I-44.
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 is the Dead Man's Curve, Laguna, New Mexico; by Perla Eichenblat.